20 Nov 2012 08:15:29 AM
(Destroys some of the UFC’s toughest welterweight contenders; still afraid of spiders. / Photo via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting)
By Jason Moles
At the end of 2011, UFC Magazine (now known as UFC 360) released their Complete Fighter and Event Guide for 2012, highlighting who they thought were the movers and shakers in each division. Surprisingly absent from the list was welterweight wrestler-turned-knockout-specialist Johny Hendricks. Fast forward a year and he’s next in line to face Georges St. Pierre for the gold. After his 46-second KO of Martin Kampmann at UFC 154, Hendricks’ emergence as a legitimate threat to and rise to the top of the 170lb. division is undeniable.
Although this past year has seen the Oklahoma native’s stock price triple — thanks in large part to his powerful left hand — he was anything but an overnight success story. To hear Hendricks’ diehard supporters tell it, he’s always been this good; we’re just now noticing it. One quick Google search is all it takes to confirm; the two-time NCAA Division I National Champion (2005, 2006) has been just as dominant in the cage as he was on the mats, though he no longer seems to be interested in playing the bad guy.
Starting his professional MMA career in 2007, Hendricks only competed on regional cards in Oklahoma at first, racking up a 3-0 record with all wins by stoppage. That was until he signed a multi-fight deal with the now-defunct World Extreme Cagefighting where he continued his winning streak against Justin Haskins by TKO in December 2008. Three months later at WEC 39, Hendricks was featured in the last welterweight bout in company history, defeating Alex Serdyukov in a Fight of the Night performance. After Reed Harris and company announced their intentions to focus solely on the lighter weight classes, Johny Hendricks was in need of a new home. Although his fights in the blue cage were few, they were the perfect appetizer for the next stage of his slow-cooking career.Read More ADD COMMENTS (14) DIGG THIS