While this UFC 167 fight card is absolutely stacked with great fights like, Pettis vs. Campuzano, Cerrone vs. Dunham, and MacDonald vs. Lawler, I’m going to break down just the main-event of the evening, and give you my evaluation of what’s to come during the fight.
Georges St. Pierre (24-2-0) vs. Johny Hendricks (15-1-0)
Once again, we have the pleasure of watching two of the pound-for-pound, best fighters in the world go at it. Riding a phenomenal 11-fight win-streak, GSP will now face his most promising opponent in Johny Hendricks.
While Hendricks comes from a wrestling background by way of Oklahoma State University, it’s his great footwork and head movement that allows him to unleash his Hulk-like power in his punches.
With almost half of his 15 victories coming by way of Knockout/TKO, look for Hendricks to employ a game-plan of sticking-and-moving. To win this fight, Hendricks will have to prove he can resist GSP’s relentless takedown’s all while landing crisp, solid punches.
The problem is: This is GSP we’re talking about…
GSP is an MMA-god. With some of the absolute best offensive and defensive wrestling in the sport, he can either completely stop his opponents game-plan, or on the contrary, implement his strategy of ferocious ground-and-pound for the win. Have I mentioned his mind-blowing explosiveness in his striking yet? Oh, and there’s that too.
The mental, and physical, training GSP has endured since his ACL tear in 2011 has been self-serving in both his ability to become a generally stronger fighter, as well as his focus in achieving his ultimate goal of being the best ever. Not to mention, he has enough cardio to out-run Pheidippides… Regardless of game-plan, he’s going to be a tough puzzle to solve.
Now If I were Mr. Hendricks, this is what I would attempt to do: First and foremost, I need to be pressing the pace. GSP is great when he’s allotted time to analyze his opponent and strike; Thus, Hendricks needs to be pushing GSP back, provided all the while, he is avoiding GSP’s clinch, and/or takedown — Which will be no easy task, seeing as he has a 75% completion rate.
I would also make sure to change up my hand speed, as well as my punching power. Hendricks will sometimes wait for the perfect time to throw that thunderous hook; But should he choose that path, he will be welcomed by a GSP that will jump all over him (Like a wolf, in a sheep-store… You know, a place where they sell sheep. Yes, I believe that’s what it’s called.).
Hendricks’ best strategy going into this fight, will be to pressure GSP so that he is not able to find his range; Which would consequently keep his own back off the fence avoiding possible takedowns at the same time. Simply put, he needs to use constant pressure with quick punches and movement to disorient GSP, and use his defensive wrestling and clinch skills to avoid being taken down.
GSP, on the other hand, will do exactly what Johny would seemingly like to do, but won’t be able to: Ground-and-Pound. He will do this, because the fact is, Hendricks still has dynamite for hands. However, it’ll be GSP’s distinguished striking doling way for his superior wrestling to take the fight to the ground, and try to finish. Whether he’ll go for the submission, or TKO, will depend on what’s available to him.
My bet is on GSP to win the fight. He looks better than he ever has, and I don’t think Johny Hendricks is well-rounded enough, to beat the likes of Georges St. Pierre.
Keep in mind, everyone gets caught someday.
Thus either way, it’s going to be a great fight.
*You can view the fights starting with the online pre-lims at 3:30pm at UFC.com, the FOX Sports 1 Prelims at 5:00 p.m., and the main card at 7:00 p.m. on Pay-Per-View, on Saturday, November 16th for UFC 167.