You know that old saying, “be careful what you wish for?”
For St-Pierre, language barrier or not, he may need to get accustomed with that old adage pretty quick. Because after St-Pierre’s unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 158 on Saturday night, he may have put away one trash-talking monster in dominating fashion, but he now faces a garbage man of a different sort; the no-frills, power-punching, two-time National Champion out of Oklahoma State, Johny “Big Rig” Hendricks.
UFC president Dana White, although non-committal on a firm date, made it very clear whom his number one contender for GSP is.
“(Hendricks) is your number one contender. No doubt. Done.”
He reiterated the point on the Fuel TV UFC 158 post-fight show, “Diaz won’t get a rematch. There’s no doubt Johny Hendricks deserves the next shot. That fight was amazing tonight. I’m actually glad that it worked out that way. Those were the top guys to see who faces Georges St-Pierre. Johny Hendricks deserves it.”
At UFC 158, St-Pierre faced a rather predictable Nick Diaz that all changes when he squares off with Hendricks. The surging slugger, whose wrestling credentials are just as, if not more, impressive than his knockout resume… and that’s saying a whole lot.
Riding a six-fight winning streak, “Big Rig” is currently on one of the most impressive runs in UFC history. During his current wave of success, Hendricks has managed wins over perennial top-ten fighters Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Mike Pierce, Martin Kampmann, and on Saturday night, the aforementioned Carlos Condit.
Paired with Condit, Hendricks (15-1) earned the UFC 158 “Fight of the Night” honors in a legendary scrap that displayed the 29-year-old as a serious contender with a varied and adaptable approach, something he may not have gotten to show in past bouts. As he pressured Condit with lunging haymakers throughout the 15-minute tussle, he earned an impressive 11 of 13 takedowns, proving to the crowd in attendance that if he needed to, he could call on his all-star wrestling pedigree at the drop of a hat.
At the post-fight press conference, the Team Takedown stalwart found himself within arm’s reach (literally and figuratively) of St-Pierre and the welterweight title.
“I’m just excited. I finally got to the top and now I actually get to fight him,” said the grinning Hendricks. “That’s what it’s all about; getting to the top and fighting the best. So I’m going to go home, study some more and be prepared the best that I can.”
Sitting side-by-side with St-Pierre, Hendricks once again reiterated that there would be very little time between the fight on Saturday and getting back to work next week.
“I can’t wait to get back home so I can start training again. That’s pretty much all I can think about; take Monday off, then go train on Tuesday.”
When asked if he saw anything in the St-Pierre vs. Diaz main event that could help him in his fight with the champ, Hendricks only asked for the same chance Diaz had.
“Like Dana said, he stood up with him; he did a little bit of everything. Hopefully he gives me that chance too,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, going out there and putting on a show for the fans and the people watching on TV. I can’t wait to go out there and prove to everyone that I belong.”
Hendricks may be bringing powerful in-ring ability when he squares off with the French Canadian champion, but what about the ability to sell a fight? Something UFC 158 co-headliner Nick Diaz was seemingly able to do so well.
“I don’t want to sit there and bad mouth somebody,” Hendricks stated. “Like Georges said, we all train hard. We all put in the same exact sacrifice every fight. I don’t have to sit here and say ‘he’s this, he’s this, he’s this.’ I want my fists and abilities to get the fight.
“I don’t want to hate someone to fight them. This is my job. I get paid to go out there and put on a show for everybody and that’s what I’m going to do. So getting to fight Georges, I just can’t wait.”
As long as Johny Hendricks’ hands are wrapped tight, something tells me fans and pundits will forgive any lack of promotional ability for “Big Rig.”
In the endearing words of New York Jet Bart Scott, may we all say, “Can’t wait!”