Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks will bring two distinct and dissimilar fighting styles to the table when they battle for the welterweight title at UFC 167.
The stakes will be raised to the ceiling when the two fighters step into the Octagon in Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. St-Pierre has not lost since taking the title on Dec. 29, 2007, but Hendricks has pummeled the opposition during a six-fight winning streak.
In an interview on Yahoo! Sports Radio, the champion admitted that Hendricks represents his toughest challenge yet.
But Hendricks can likely say the same about the savvy 32-year-old veteran. Each man has earned his way to the top of the card, but they have not arrived in the same fashion.
Let's take a look at each fighter's arsenal before Saturday's epic clash.
|Fighters||Georges St-Pierre||Johny Hendricks|
|Height||5' 11" (180 cm)||5' 9" (175 cm)|
|Weight||170 lb. (77 kg)||170 lb. (77 kg)|
|Reach||76.0" (193.04 cm)||69.0" (175.26 cm)|
The Scouting Report on St-Pierre
St-Pierre does not chase the early knockout. The man called "Rush" is in no hurry to end the bout, but he keeps on winning through a well-rounded, calculated game plan.
In fact, GSP has not obtained a knockout since 2009, when he sent B.J. Penn down for the count during the fourth round at UFC 94. Some might contribute the lack of big blows to old age hampering the star's strength, possible foreboding an eventual decline.
Not so fast. St-Pierre knows what he's doing in the Octagon. Like a baseball pitcher who learns to attack the corners and master his off-speed pitches, St-Pierre has adapted his game to better suit a man north of 30.
While the champion has only notched nine career knockouts, the technician has forced his opponents to tap out five times during the first round. While he does not garner the finishing hit, he does amass a healthy 3.75 significant strikes per minute, allowing him to gradually wear down his target.
St-Pierre addressed concerns over his changing methods of arriving at the same final result with Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden. He described the thrill of slowly breaking his opponent's will with the same vigor as generating a big knockout finish.
There's another finish where you see your opponent breaking mentally. This happens more than the spontaneous finish. You see your opponent failing mentally. He starts to fight, not to win anymore but to survive.
Rush will look to capitalize on Hendricks' aggression, forcing him into mistakes while diligently working away at him strike by strike.
The Scouting Report on Hendricks
Hendricks clearly is not content with prevailing through efficiency. He made his varying intentions very clear in a pre-fight press conference when he stated, "My mind is to kill him."
Well, OK then.
The rest of the quote assures us that he's not Ivan Drago, but it does maintain his hunger to capture a signature victory with a grand finish.
My mind is to kill him. I mean not in that sense, but it's to beat him, to demolish him. I want to win where he doesn't want to fight me again. That's the way I go into every fight. This fight is no different than any other. He's done a lot of things, but that doesn't matter. When he steps into the Octagon with me, the past is the past, and I plan on making a new future.
Hendricks has obtained eight of his 15 victories via KO, but he plays a power game that aims for pure punishment. "Bigg Rigg" is in constant search of a takedown, which often bruised opponents but leaves him vulnerable to some take-back.
He has absorbed 3.04 strikes per minute, compared to GSP's rate of 1.23. Hendricks is not a skilled defensive guru, but his brute force often offsets his shortcomings.
The former NCAA champion out of Oklahoma State lands 50.34 percent of his strikes, but it's all about making the ones he converts count.
Prediction: St-Pierre by Decision
St-Pierre's defensive prowess will frustrate Hendricks, who will be unable to bully the veteran like past opponents. Keeping his guard up, Rush will counter his eager adversary's takedown attempts with damage of his own. In the end, the current champion will obtain another victory by way of decision.
*All fighting stats were obtained from UFC.com.