UFC 167: 3 Questions We Have About Johny Hendricks

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2013

Mar 16, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN;  Johny Hendricks (blue) celebrates after his main card bout against Carlos Condit (red) at UFC 158 at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last two years, nobody in the world has displayed the overwhelming power and dominating strength Johny Hendricks has.

In a matter of seconds, the Oklahoma product has made some of the best welterweights in the world look like schoolgirls.  Hendricks has done this by increasing his overall knockout potential through crisp movement, angle adaptation and innate precision.

But for what has been an unbelievable divisional ride full of major accomplishments, "Bigg Rigg" will find himself opposite the greatest champion in UFC history this weekend in Las Vegas.

For Hendricks, finding the chin of Georges St-Pierre is going to be his best shot at capturing championship honor and ending a legacy.  But that doesn't mean he isn't preparing in other facets.

Here are three questions the former NCAA Division I wrestling standout has to answer in order to become the first American to wear welterweight gold in over five years.


Can he take down GSP?

Just like St-Pierre, Hendricks has to prove he can muscle the champ to the ground.

For years, St-Pierre has wreaked havoc on a division unable and unequipped to deal with his athletic wrestling prowess.  Even though he doesn't possess any sort of credible takedown background, he has been the absolute best at dictating every in-cage environment.

Mar 16, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN;  Johny Hendricks (blue) grapples with Carlos Condit during their main card event at UFC 158 at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

That means Hendricks has to game-plan to take St-Pierre out of his own comfort zone.  Make him pay in the clinch, shoot for quick takedowns, get on top and rain punches.  If he can do that, Hendricks has a real good shot at not only outscoring the champ round by round but also potentially finishing him.

Josh Koscheck was a great wrestler to gauge GSP's true abilities against, but Hendricks is simply better.  It should be interesting to see if the champ's athleticism and evolution can outperform the challenger's collegiate pedigree.


Can he last five rounds?

Saturday will not only mark Hendricks' first title fight, but it will also be the first time he's headlining a UFC event.  That also means it'll be the first time the heavy-handed wrestler has been scheduled for a five-round bout.

While Hendricks has shown the top-level conditioning in the past that will help him this weekend, nobody knows for sure what will happen when the cage door closes and Georges St-Pierre stands across from him.

If "Bigg Rigg" wants to upset the champion, he needs to possess and execute proper Octagon technique.  Strong hands, a great game plan and excellent composure are great jumping-off points, but boundless conditioning will be his greatest tool.


Can he find a home for his power?

When this fight was announced a few months ago, it immediately became evident that Hendricks has a chance to win if he can land one crisp blow. 


St-Pierre hasn't had the greatest of chins in the past, and Hendricks has simply dismantled nearly every welterweight in his path.  But as simple as it sounds to land a powerful shot flush on a champion willing to mix it up, it's much easier said than done.

As one of the most athletically gifted welterweights of all time, GSP is very hard to hit.  His jab is undeniable, his kickboxing is elite, and his footwork, head work and angling have never looked better.

When the two finally meet this weekend at UFC 167, fans are going to find out if the power of Hendricks can find a home on a champion who has only been hit more than 40 times twice in his UFC career.


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