Johny Hendricks has done more than impress over the past two years.
From cleaning multiple, top-level clocks to going toe-to-toe with arguably the greatest UFC champion this world has ever seen, Bigg Rigg has been everything a superstar in waiting needs to be.
But when Hendricks steps inside the Octagon March 15 to meet heavy-handed Robbie Lawler at UFC 171, all of his hard work will culminate into one defining moment.
Assuming Hendricks' wrestling, five-round conditioning and superior athleticism can handle the savage aggressiveness of Ruthless and capture the welterweight title, the 30-year-old knockout artist will be ready for anything in the future.
Hendricks discussed his take on fighting the winner of Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley (also set to take place at UFC 171) in a recent interview with MMA Junkie's Steven Marracco:
If I win this fight, it's going to be between one of them two. Carlos is always a tough opponent; same thing with Woodley. Those two, they’re fighting the same night. But a fight’s a fight. You never know what’s going to happen. You just have to say whoever wants to come after you, let them come at you, and you move forward from that.
Who has the best chance to debunk Hendricks?
If you remember, Hendricks and Condit met once before last March, producing one of the best fights of 2013. Hendricks ultimately left the cage victorious on the heels of 12 takedowns, setting up his inevitable showdown with Georges St-Pierre.
But those aren't the only two welterweight title threats the former Oklahoma State University wrestling standout has on his radar.
"His stock is always high," said Hendricks regarding former Strikeforce champion and top pay-per-view draw Nick Diaz. "He’s a great fighter, but if he beats up one or two people, then yeah. He’s earned it."
Diaz is currently scheduled to appear on Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter as an assistant coach for lightweight title contender and reality head coach Gilbert Melendez. But that doesn't mean the outspoken Stockton kid wouldn't be ready for another shot at UFC gold.
"Realistically, I think he needs to fight a couple of times," added Hendricks. "What is he, 0-2 in his last few fights? It is what it is, but if the UFC said, ‘Hey Johny, you’ve got to fight him,’ well guess what? I’m not going to say no."
First, Hendricks needs to stop the runaway train that is Lawler in less than two weeks. Once he gets through that bruising obstacle and Condit vs. Woodley plays out in fashion, we'll know for sure what a GSP-less weight class holds for the coming years.
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