UFC 167: Why Johny Hendricks and Georges St. Pierre could wage a war for the ages

Photo courtesy of the UFC

Photo courtesy of the UFC

Georges St. Pierre looks to make the ninth defence of his UFC welterweight title on November 16th at UFC 167 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Las Vegas when he faces Johny Hendricks. Though the build up for the fight has been somewhat tainted by disputes over VADA and WADA drug testing the actual fight all this drama surrounds is without a doubt one of the most intriguing matchups in the year and a bout many fans feel has been over a year in the making.

When GSP steps into the octagon on November 16 he is facing an opponent who has perhaps the most reliable skillset available in MMA. Johny Hendricks is an agile, powerful All-American wrestler and what he lacks in reach is more than made up with immense physicality and dynamite in both hands. Make no mistake about it though, what separates Hendricks from the Ryan Baders and Josh Koschecks of the world is his ability to actually connect with those power punches and also to do so out of a southpaw stance. It’s a very enjoyable thing to see a fighter accurately translate his talents in one area of the fight game to another and Hendricks’ continued improvement on the feet is a brilliant example of this. Most wrestlers would be afraid of wading into Carlos Condit’s diverse offence but Hendricks met him full on at UFC 158 and managed to best the taller, rangier Condit by not only meeting him with strikes but more importantly changing levels for a takedown whenever his opponent had become too comfortable striking. It is this ability to blend strikes and takedowns as well as his strength and athleticism that make Hendricks such an intriguing challenger coupled with the X factor of fighting southpaw, replacing the typical wrestler’s “big right hand” with a left and creating a smorgasbord of potentially alien angles from which to strike.

Though GSP is considered by many the best wrestler in MMA to label him as such is slightly inaccurate. Where GSP truly shines is not in his pure wrestling ability but rather his successful blend of various martial arts into a singular fighting style. He is exceptionally well rounded and has an answer to almost every kind of opponent with his record being testament to this, his only losses coming years prior in matchups he went on to decisively avenge. Typically fighters who excel in range and distance are lankier and less physically strong yet St. Pierre is built like a tank. Usually a fighter with brilliant grappling struggles to be as effective on the feet yet the welterweight champion has the best jab in MMA. The list goes on and on and although St Pierre has been heavily criticised in recent years for coasting in title fights the mere fact he is even able to should attest to how talented a fighter he really is.

The outcome of UFC 167’s main event comes down to a single, vital question. Can Johny Hendricks overcome GSP’s jab? If not fans can most likely expect a mirror image of St. Pierre’s second meeting with Josh Koscheck with the challenger jabbed into a swollen mess while MMA fans berate GSP for coasting and Dana White presumably boils with rage backstage at the demise of yet another welterweight contender. If Hendricks is able to “bring the fight” to St. Pierre and deal with the champion’s ability to control distance then we are likely looking at one of the best fights of the year and the very real likelihood of the crowning of a new champion if Hendricks can place that big left hand on the chin that has eluded so many.

 



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