Johny Hendricks: “I Believe I Have What it Takes to Beat GSP”, Hoping to Land Shot at Interim Belt
By Kelsey Mowatt
While the debate may continue on as to who deserved to win last Saturday’s welterweight fight between Nick Diaz and newly crowned interim champ Carlos Condit, there’s no debating the fact that these are interesting times in the UFC 170lb. division. Not only is the MMA world awaiting the return of the long standing champion Georges St. Pierre, but other potential contenders continue to emerge. One of these, of course, is Johny Hendricks, who became just the second man since 2002 to defeat Jon Fitch at UFC 141, by knocking out the highly regarded welterweight in just 12 seconds.
“No, I don’t know anything yet,” Hendricks (12-1) told FCF recently, while discussing what’s next for the decorated wrestler after he ended Fitch’s six fight undefeated streak in December. “I would like to think in terms of the title. It was a great fight; I didn’t care who won, I just want a shot at bringing that belt home…My focus right now is to sell myself to get to that interim title, but if something comes up, I’m not going to say ‘I’m not taking it.’”
More recently, however, there have been reports that Carlos Condit and his camp are leaning towards waiting for GSP’s return–admist calls from some fans for an immediate rematch with Diaz–meaing Hendricks could need another win or two to secure a title shot.
“I do see if say Diego Sanchez wins I’ll get paired up with him,” said Hendricks, when asked if he thought a future bout with the winner of the upcoming Jake Ellenberger, Sanchez fight might be a possibility. “If they put me and Ellenberger up against each other, I’ll do it because it’s my job to, but the way I look at it, if I get a shot at GSP and I lose, then Ellenberger can’t get it because we’re both the pretty much the exact same fighters…why would you put out two contenders that may be able to knock out GSP?”
“I believe I have what it takes to beat GSP,” Hendricks added. “I have the wrestling. I definitely believe in that. I have the hand speed; whenever I watch his fights, I don’t think he’s faster, and also I have the power. I have the power to beat him.”
Of course, due to the fact Hendricks stopped one of Josh Koscheck’s longtime training partners in Fitch, there has been speculation as to whether the UFC might look to match Hendricks up with the former number one contender.
“If there are two opportunities; if it’s one, ‘Johny, you have to fight one more fight and you’re not going to get that title shot, whoever they put in front of me I’ll say ‘thank you’,”said Hendricks when asked about the possibility of fighting Koscheck. “Or two, they say ‘Johny, you can wait a few months and get a shot at this guy, or wait six months and wait for a title shot, which one would you rather do?”
It will be interesting to see where 2012 leads Hendricks, after the two time, NCAA wrestling champion completed a 2011 campaign, which also saw him score wins over T.J. Waldburger and Mike Pierce.
“When they came to me and said ‘would you like to fight Jon Fitch?’ I said ‘yeah’ and that’s when really in my mind it changed,” Hendricks noted. “I said ‘hey, I do belong here; I do belong where I’m at, I’ve trained as hard as I can train and I’ve done everything right that I could have.’ Now that I’m there I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize this, so everyday I have to train that much harder, and if that opportunity is there, I have to take it, grab it and run with it as fast as I can.”
Photo via Team Takedown