Reebok athlete Johny Hendricks throws down with Georges St-Pierre this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for the UFC 167 welterweight championship. The powerhouse puncher is on a six-fight winning streak, and just might have what it takes (beard and all) to dethrone GSP from his long reign on top. Hendricks, a native Oklahoman, has had strong wrestling cred in the past, but expects to win the fight through aggression and his infamous KO power. Men's Fitness talked with the contender recently about the upcoming brawl.
Men's Fitness: How do you feel about your upcoming fight with GSP?
Johny Hendricks: I feel excited, ready. Words can't explain how long I've been waiting and how excited I am to finally get the knockdown.
MF: What's the biggest challenge you're going to face in this fight?
JH: The biggest challenge? GSP trying to take me down and grind out a win. That's the biggest challenge I'm going to have to face, it's to not let him push me against the fence and take me down and control me that way.
MF: What's your strategy for taking down GSP?
JH: Realistically, I don't know how I'm going to beat him. I say that because I'm not going in there with just one game plan; I'm going in there with multiple game plans because that's what it's going to take to win. That's been the way I've gone into the last six or seven fights, and has proven to work. I don't want to change that.
MF: What advantages do you have over GSP?
JH: Power. I have knockout power. Secondly, I'm just as good a wrestler as he is. That's one thing I can't wait to prove.
MF: So we heard that you briefly trained with MIke Tyson. What was that like?
JH: Yeah. I got to pick his brain for about an hour. It was worth it. He gave me some great tips. I've taken those tips and tried to adapt them to my style. Hopefully they will work in this fight.
MF: What were some of the tips Mike passed along to you?
JH: He said to me, "Johny, I know you have one-punch knockout power, but it's not going to be a one-punch fight. One will knock him out. Two will make him unconscious." My goal is to make sure he can't get back up. I got to make sure that I finish it. I have the ability to do that. I want to make sure that when I get the opportunity, I'll look for more than just one punch.
MF: How do you think you'll benefit from your time spent with Mike Tyson in the fight with GSP?
JH: We all work with great athletes. We all have somebody that helps us along the way. What matters the most is whoever can adapt and have control is going to win this fight. I have to prepare for a five-round fight. I can't go in there thinking I'm going to knock him out. Tyson said to me, "You've got to realize that you might not knock everybody out. You might hit some people with everything you've got, and they're just not going to fall." That helped me realize that I'm not always going to look for the kill shot, but when it presents itself, I will take it.
MF: How would you describe your fighting style?
JH: Aggressive, that's the way I like to do it—be aggressive. Sort of the no-holds-barred attitude. Go in there, do what you need to do, set the pace early, and attack from there."