Count Johny Hendricks as someone who was all too excited to hear Fitch’s name as his next opponent.
“I was jumping up and down. Joe Silva said most people aren’t this excited to fight Jon Fitch, and I love it because I’ve fought guys like him,” Hendricks told MMAWeekly Radio.
Beyond his own wrestling credentials that include two NCAA National Championships, Hendricks has fought several fighters with styles that could be compared to Fitch. He believes that experience is what will lead him to overcoming the suffocating offense that Fitch has used to grind his past opponents into the mat, begging for air.
“I’ve had many of those kinds of matches through my lifetime and what you have to do is you have to know how to counter it. Knowing how to counter it, knowing how to do certain things, to make it feel like he doesn’t have that opportunity to keep smothering you. We’ve watched every fight of his, frontwards and backwards. We’ve went over it more than any other fight, and we have a great game plan going into this,” Hendricks stated.
Past fights against similar opponents is helpful and so is having the right strategy, but to up his own camp for the last several days before heading to Las Vegas, Hendricks brought in American Top Team welterweight Ben Saunders as well.
Saunders battled Fitch at UFC 111 in 2010, and while he didn’t beat the former title contender, he came away with a lot of knowledge that he passed along to Hendricks in the training room.
Hendricks has also worked tirelessly on his stand-up over the last few years, developing a boxing game that matches his phenomenal wrestling base. He’s shown it off in a few past fights including his UFC debut where he floored former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ winner Amir Sadollah, as well as Charlie Brenneman.
The scary thing about both of those knockouts? Hendricks wasn’t even punching at his hardest.
“This is the first fight where I’m going to go in there and try to punch as hard as I can,” Hendricks admitted. “Usually, I’m punching about 80 or 85-percent and this one I think I’m actually going to go out there and actually try to hit hard and quick. I am really excited about actually is to hit somebody as hard as I can and see what happens.”
If the end result is what he’s hoping for, Johny Hendricks will walk out of UFC 141 as the second fighter to hand Jon Fitch a defeat. He’s not worried about how many people know about who he is going into the fight; Hendricks just wants to finish Fitch and then let everyone see just how good he is.
“Nobody knows who I am; everybody’s writing me off saying Jon Fitch is going to get another title shot. That makes it that much more fun for me because the last time they were saying that, it was a quick night against Amir Sadollah,” said Hendricks.
“I’m not looking at a title shot because my one goal right now is to defeat Jon Fitch and do it in a dominating fashion. If I can do that, everything else people are talking about will fall into place.”