Georges St. Pierre has dominated one of the toughest divisions in MMA for seven years. GSP has steamrolled through challengers with very little resistance but Johny Hendricks is different. Big Rigg poses the greatest threat GSP has ever faced to his title.
Looking back on GSP’s seven-year winning streak you can see a predominant theme among his opponents. They are all strong wrestlers who aren’t known for their knockout power or striking. Don’t get me wrong. These aren’t cake walks but these are all guys that specialize in one area. Nobody on the list of GSP’s victims is as well-rounded as Hendricks.
Hendricks striking is ridiculous for someone with his background in this division. This division has been known for its wrestling. Hendricks matches up perfectly with the other wrestlers GSP has faced. He is a highly decorated collegiate wrestler with his one weakness possibly being his takedown defense. That is the biggest glaring weakness here that GSP, who is a takedown master, can expose. The problem is that once on the ground, Hendricks can be equally dangerous for GSP. How is GSP going to hold down someone that strong?
There is nobody that pushes forward in the division like Hendricks does. The only opponent GSP had who comes remotely close was Thiago Alves but Alves does not have the ground game that Hendricks has. Hendricks is scary because he isn’t afraid to throw down and he one of the best power punches in MMA. This is where it gets troublesome for GSP. If GSP goes for a takedown he exposes himself to a shot and that one shot may be all Hendricks needs.
GSP showed in the Condit fight that he is vulnerable to a good strike. Condit almost won the fight out of nowhere when he connected and rocked GSP. GSP recovered but an overhand left from Hendricks will turn the lights out on GSP. He made that mistake in the past with Matt Serra and paid for it but that was many moons ago. GSP has done a fantastic job of avoiding strikes to the tune of 75% according to one breakdown. But what about the other 25% that connected? All Hendricks needs is one.
The only thing stopping Hendricks from giving GSP the fight of his life at 167 is Johny Hendricks. We have seen fighters numerous times over the last 20 years step into championship match and abandon the tools that got them there. Hendricks has also never fought anyone with the takedown defense and grappling prowess of the champion. On paper this looks like the most intriguing fight of GSP’s championship run. Whether it delivers or not is always another story.