Johny Hendricks: “If I Beat (Fitch), I Don’t Want There To Be Any Excuses”
By Kelsey Mowatt
It’s been nearly three years since Johny Hendricks began competing under the Zuffa banner, and since he made his WEC debut in December, 2008, the decorated wrestler has consistently demonstrated why he received ‘top prospect’ billing upon his arrival. Now, having gone 8-1 while competing for the WEC and the UFC, Hendricks has worked his way into a bout with perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch on December 30th. The 28 year-old-fighter understands that the match-up signifies a turning point in his career.
“I thought I was going to,” Hendricks recently told FCF, when asked if he anticipated that he would fight one of the promotion’s premiere welterweights next, following his split decision win over Mike Pierce in August. “That’s what I wanted, because you can only string so many wins together, so now that I feel great in the Octagon, everything’s flowing great, I want to make my run.”
“He’s the number two ranked guy,” Hendricks added about Fitch. “He’s competed with the best, he’s got a phenomenal record and I’m really excited. I can’t wait.”
While Hendricks (11-1) has put together an impressive record in the Octagon, with his only loss coming via unanimous decision to Rick Story last December, the Team Takedown fighter has yet to command the kind of attention other established stars in the division receive. On account of his six fight win streak and remarkable 13-1-1 Octagon record, Fitch (23-1-1) has been rather vocal about his desire to rematch household names like champion Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn. As a result, the recent announcement of the Fitch, Hendricks bout may have caught some observers by surprise.
“No, I hope not,” said Hendricks, when asked if he believes there’s a possibility that Fitch may look past their December 30th tilt. “If I beat him I don’t want there to be any excuses. I don’t want that to be something in the back of anybody’s mind….Hopefully he doesn’t take me lightly as I want to put on a really great fight and hopefully have my hand raised.”
Stylistically, it will be interesting to see how the UFC 141 bout unfolds, as Fitch’s pronounced wrestling abilities have consistently allowed him to control fights and dictate where the action unfolds. Hendricks, however, is a two time NCAA wrestling champion and four time All American, who like Fitch, can also strike.
“A lot of people haven’t seen my fights,” said Hendricks. “But it’s no secrets for my fans that the thing I like to do most is stand. That’s exciting for me and it’s exciting for the fans, and there’s nothing better than hitting someone and see how they react.”
“If for some reason my stand-up game isn’t doing well I’ll have a back-up plan to get him to the cage or get him down to the ground,” Hendricks noted. “I’ll have a plan to slow things down if I need to. You know what I’m saying?”
Although the bout is still nearly three months away, Hendricks will soon begin preparations for what will be the biggest fight of his career to date.
“Every camp I do is usually twelve weeks,” said Hendricks, who has also scored wins over Amir Sadollah, Ricardo Funch, T.J. Grant, Charlie Brenneman and T.J. Waldburger during his UFC tenure. “I’m never really out of the gym; I haven’t really taken a break since Christmas, I took a week off. When my daughter was born I took two days off, so at twelve weeks I start training, nothing too terribly hard, and just keep bumping it up…The last month I go all out.”
Photo credit: Team Takedown