UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz became the stepping stone to one of the most intriguing title fights in UFC history when the Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre successfully defended his title, and top contender Johnny Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit.
After the victory of both fighters, it was announced that the next challenger for St. Pierre will be no other than Hendricks.
But as much as most pundits think that the new challenger has the Champ’s number, I would not want to jump this early on the bandwagon.
Many say that Hendricks’ wrestling and powerful striking will present great trouble for St. Pierre. But for me, this actually should work the other way around.
The challenger surely can hit hard, but the Champion has proven several times that he can make a fight a technical boxing match, wherein he can utilize his jabs and angles to avoid being hit by a powerful knockout punch. One instance of this is during his fight with Josh Koscheck, wherein the fight remained on the feet, working well to St. Pierre’s advantage.
If the Champ can make his matchup with Hendricks a technical boxing match and avoid the latter’s powerful left hand, I believe he can neutralize the challenger’s strength in the last rounds.
During Condit vs. Hendricks, the striking advantage swings to the “Natural Born Killer” at Round 3. If the fight has two more rounds, Condit may have gotten the decision for the fight.
Predictability is the key. St. Pierre’s striking is more diverse than Hendricks'. If the Champ can get accustomed to the challenger’s striking rhythm, he can use his angles to avoid hard shots and land his own strikes.
In my opinion, wrestling will be neutralized in this fight, given that both fighters are highly skilled in this aspect.
This would actually favor St. Pierre. When the fight turns out to be a striking match, Hendricks has the tendency to go for takedowns when he is being outstroked. The Champ should use wrestling in reverse to avoid being taken down.
Meanwhile, if Hendricks gains success in his takedowns, St. Pierre will not be in trouble as the former’s ground striking can be neutralized with excellent jiu-jitsu techniques (see Hendricks vs. Condit). The Champ can also easily work his way up, given his tremendous upper body strength.
Hendricks is not the fighter who could dethrone St. Pierre. The Champ should be able to defend his title by another unanimous decision.