Tonight the UFC will be celebrating 20 years of action with UFC 167: St-Pierre vs Hendricks. The main event of the night features one of the greatest champions in the history of mixed martial arts Georges St-Pierre defending the UFC welterweight title against number one contender Johny Hendricks. This is easily one of the most highly anticipated welterweight fights of all-time.
Arlington, Texas based fighter Johny Hendricks is on a six-fight winning streak that includes knockout victories over Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann as well as decision victories over Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit. Hendricks holds an overall MMA record of 15-1 with a UFC record of 10-1. Ten of Hendricks' wins have been finishes and nine of those ten have been knockout or TKO stoppages.
When you talk about Hendricks the first thing that comes to mind has to be his left hand. Hendricks may have the most dangerous left hand in the UFC. He is an NCAA Division I wrestling champion and a four time All-American. Hendricks is also one of the strongest welterweights in the division.
There is not much to say about Georges St-Pierre that has not already been said. The guy is one of the greatest champions in the history of the UFC. St-Pierre has held the UFC welterweight title for over five years and has defended the belt eight times. St-Pierre is 24-2 overall and 18-2 in the UFC.
St-Pierre is a master strategist. He has great footwork and a jab that can connect from many angles. St-Pierre has a smothering ground game and is probably the greatest wrestling takedown artist in UFC history.
Is Johny Hendricks the one? There is no doubt that Hendricks can end this fight with one punch, something you would not normally say about St-Pierre. Hendricks could also be the strongest guy St-Pierre has fought since Matt Hughes. However, you can say the same thing about St-Pierre being the strongest guy Hendricks has ever faced as well.
Wrestling will play a huge part in the this fight. Can Hendricks force St-Pierre to be more defensive with his wrestling? You should fully expect Hendricks to look for the left hand early and often. Beyond that look for Hendricks to shoot in and try to establish that he can take St-Pierre down. If the takedown is not easily available you will see Hendricks press St-Pierre against the cage.
St-Pierre's strategy will be a little different then the usual 'use the takedown to set up the jab.' Due to the power of Hendricks, St-Pierre will likely try to avoid getting in close with Hendricks in the early rounds. He will use his footwork, jab and various kicks to stay outside of Hendricks. Then should the fight venture into the championship rounds, St-Pierre will switch back to his wrestling and try to use it to set up his jab and coast to a decision if Hendricks gets tired.
Hendricks will come out very aggressive and try to end the fight early. St-Pierre will avoid the attacks and possibly score takedowns when Hendricks is moving forward. Another big question is how will Hendricks fair once he is on his back? Will he be able to get back to his feet or will St-Pierre find success in smothering Hendricks on the ground?
The longer this fight goes the more it will be in the favor of St-Pierre. If Hendricks is not able to stop the fight in the first two rounds, it will be hard to see Hendricks winning a decision over St-Pierre. Look for this fight to end in a decision victory for St-Pierre. This fight will be a very strategic close fight.
UFC 167: St-Pierre vs Hendricks airs live tonight on pay per view at 9:00 p.m. central. The preliminary fights are on Fox Sports 1 at 7:00 p.m. central. UFC 167 emanates from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.