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Tag: main event breakdown

UFC 167: St-Pierre vs. Hendricks — Main Event Breakdown


(The bourgeoisie and the proletariat shed their blood for the world’s scraps, while a shadowy bald figure in the background pulls the strings. Can’t you see? WE’RE ALL JUST PAWNS IN THE GAME, MAN. / Photo via Facebook.com/MMAFighting)

By George Shunick

UFC 167 is shaping up to be — on paper, at least — one of the most loaded events of the year. This isn’t a surprise; the UFC marks its 20th anniversary this month and does so with what should be a sufficient amount of bombast. Headlining Saturday’s festivities will be the UFC’s reigning king of pay-per-view, Georges St-Pierre. His opponent is Johny Hendricks, a decorated collegiate wrestler with a left hand that will lay waste to whatever unfortunate being happens to lie in its path. There can be no doubt that Hendricks, in this sense, might pose the single greatest threat that GSP has faced in his MMA career. He might also be the easiest matchup GSP has faced in years.

Against St-Pierre, Hendricks epitomizes the idea of a “puncher’s chance.” He has virtually no advantage over GSP except power — power so substantial that the threat of it seems to have obscured glaring weaknesses that St-Pierre is particularly gifted at exploiting. Granted, his power is impressive. If he hits GSP flush with his left hand, he can end the fight in an instant. He should, for the first few rounds at least, be capable of keeping the fight on the feet. He’d better, because he has little chance of victory on the ground. His bottom game is solely focused on returning to his feet, and he has not shown the ability to threaten from top position. Recall how easily and how often Carlos Condit, a well-rounded fighter who does not possess extraordinary wrestling ability, was able to return to his feet in Hendricks’ last fight. No, if Hendricks wants to win he needs to look for the kill shot.

Here’s where Hendricks runs into problems. If he lands his left hand, the fight is his. The tricky part is actually landing it. His two best knockouts — against Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann — came against opposition with terrible footwork. Hendricks can cover ground extraordinarily fast; backing up against him doesn’t work well at all. Even if he misses the left hand, by pushing opponents straight back they invariably end up against the fence. This is where Hendricks does his best wrestling; against Condit, every single one of his takedowns came after he backed Condit up with left hands and put him against the fence. In some of his previous fights, Hendricks has relied on pushing opponents into the fence and grinding out (sometimes questionable) decisions. It’s an effective strategy, so long as he’s the superior wrestler and his opponents back up in a straight line.

Unfortunately for Hendricks, neither qualifier applies to this fight.

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