MMA Access: Johny Hendricks – Marveling at a Winter Fight
By Christopher Jester
With Georges St. Pierre’s recent signing to be a villain in the upcoming Marvel film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one question no one is asking is whether GSP’s time away from the Octagon will put the UFC’s welterweight division in jeopardy again? Screwing Johny Hendricks’ chance at another title shot doesn’t seem like a viable option for the UFC, especially after he was told he had won this coveted spot on several occasions already.
Typically time away from the Octagon spells two things for #1 contenders. One, wait on the champion to return or two, take another fight in the meantime. Each one just doesn’t seem fair to Hendricks who has proven that he is the best contender in the division and has fought the best to claim his spot as the #1 challenger to GSP’s title.
After beating the likes of Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann, and Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks has very little else to prove that he deserves to be on the top of the heap. What he brings into a fight against GSP are his heavy left hands and a wrestling pedigree that should be able to stifle St. Pierre’s own takedowns. But its always the unexpected and spectacular knockout capability of Hendricks that will excite fans about this pivotal matchup.
Initially the talk was that Johny Hendricks left hand was broken, and that Georges St. Pierre would want to heal his Achilles injury that he had before his title defense against Nick Diaz. However, Hendricks tweeted on March 19, “Update on my hand: it was feeling so much better today I decided not to go to the doc. Recovery going good!” St. Pierre’s camp would later confirm that his injury was minor. With both fighters reportedly not seriously injured from their bouts at UFC 158, Hendricks quickly campaigned for the championship match in August.
The problem Hendricks now faces is waiting on the champion to return from filming duties and any other obligations. There are no concrete details on how long GSP’s shooting schedule will be, but taking time to film on Captain America: The Winter Soldier will likely consume a part of the summer months, with any additional re-shoots possibly being needed during the fall months. Putting together a training camp to prepare for the fight makes this potential matchup a late winter fight; perhaps even an early 2014 fight.
A fight in the later part of 2013 will still allow fans to find this fight attractive. However, sidelining Hendricks any longer than that may be at the detriment of the UFC. Hendricks potential Fight of the Year bout is still fresh in fans minds, and this year will give them ample opportunity to sell and promote Hendricks as the best contender for the reigning champ.
However, fighting in the winter does open up the opportunity to line up a contender for the winner of the St. Pierre versus Hendricks bout. This may be best for Georges St. Pierre. On the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show, Firas Zahabi (St. Pierre’s head coach) said of St. Pierre, “…His training camps are not sustainable forever. …There’s no doubt in my mind he wants to do another one, but down the line, two or three more training camps, is he still going to want to do it?”
It sounds like St. Pierre may be facing the twilight years of his career, and having the time to establish another top contender for St. Pierre (if he wins) will help that timetable look a bit more lucrative.
Regardless of when the UFC Welterweight Champion returns, Hendricks and the rest of UFC’s welterweight division will have to wait. St. Pierre’s venture into Hollywood begins soon with his role in the latest Captain America film, thus more than likely pushing back this pivotal championship matchup with Johny Hendricks until the later part of 2013 or early 2014.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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