All stars align for the underdog to come out victorious when pitted against a beloved superstar. And if the greatest champion in the weight class is beaten, he often gets a rematch. B.J. Penn was at the top of the lightweight ladder for two years, dominating all challengers until Frankie “The Answer” Edgar came along, and the next fight for both men was a rematch. So the next rematch could involve the reigning welterweight champ.
Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks (15-1, 12-1 UFC) now stands at the front of the line for a shot at Georges St. Pierre’s title, and honor earned after stunning Jon Fitch at UFC 141, knocking Martin Kampmann’s cap back at UFC 154, and most recently providing fans with a “Fight of the Night” performance in his welterweight title eliminator match with Carlos Condit at UFC 158. Hendricks is an accomplished wrestler whose hands are just as effective, if not more, than his power duck-under.
St. Pierre (24-2, 18-2 UFC) is one of the most accomplished MMA fighters to date. His timing along with his efficient, diverse striking attack often leads him to dominate his opponents, from the opening round until the final bell. GSP hasn’t finished a fight within twenty-five minutes since his big champion vs. champion bout with Penn back at UFC 94. But if Hendricks just so happens to lose steam in the later rounds as Penn did, there shouldn’t be a doubt in anyone’s mind that one of the most well-rounded athletes to appear in MMA can finish with a submission or a stoppage.
“I think what he’s going to do is come out with sorta the same game plan he did against Koscheck. Jab, jab, jab… until he gets you to over-commit,” Hendricks told MMAWeekly. “I’m going to have to beat him twice. You don’t just beat him once, unless I knock him out. If I manhandle him for two rounds and I knock him out then there won’t be a rematch. If it’s a close fight, or I go out there and knock him out in the first minute. Yeah, there will be a rematch.”
Could the challenger be looking too far ahead? At least he is focused solely on St. Pierre, who has yet to even sign the contract to give Hendricks his shot. When the two will meet inside the Octagon remains a mystery, so we’ve gotta sit back and wait to see how the entire 170-pound title picture unfolds.