Four-time All-American and two-time national champion Johny Hendricks is one of the most accomplished college wrestlers ever to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
As he approaches his first title fight in the organization, Hendricks has no interest in putting those skills on display.
He’s much more interested in scoring a knockout victory over Georges St. Pierre when they meet for the welterweight belt in the main event of UFC 167 on Nov. 16 at the MGM Grand Garden.
“I don’t want to take him down. See these two things right here?” Hendricks asked, holding up his fists during a media appearance Monday at the MGM Grand. “I want to lay him out. That’s all I want to do. That’s what the fans want to see and I know I have the power in both hands to do it.
“I will eat a jab to land a right or left hand on his jaw line. Punch me in the face, I’ll punch you twice as hard.”
Hendricks’ infatuation with the knockout should come as no surprise. He has recorded three first-round knockouts during a six-fight winning streak since his only career loss that has put him in position to challenge for the title.
“When I’m in there, my only goal is to break somebody’s jaw. Let them forget who they are that night and wake up the next morning wondering what the hell happened,” Hendricks said. “I can win any way I want to. I know I’ve got better wrestling. I wrestled for 20 years. Dude’s not going to outwrestle me.”
St. Pierre is the UFC’s longest-reigning champion since Anderson Silva lost the middleweight crown to Chris Weidman, another stellar collegiate wrestler, on July 6. St. Pierre said the fight was a reminder that past success means nothing once the cage door closes.
“The moment someone starts to seem invincible is just when he can fail,” the champion said. “It’s a crazy sport that we’re in. One mistake can change everything.”
Hendricks wouldn’t say watching Weidman served as an inspiration, but he is aware of the similarities to his situation. He acknowledged there is a growing minority picking him to end St. Pierre’s title reign.
“I think it’s because I’ve wrestled, I’m powerful and I’ve only used about 80 percent of my strength in all my fights and I’ve proved I can lay somebody out,” the 29-year-old Oklahoma State alum said. “That’s GSP’s Achilles’ heel, his chin. He’s been wobbled in his last three fights at least once. If I touch you with my left hand, it’s not a wobble, it’s forget the day.”
■ ’ZOMBIE’ SHOCKED — When Anthony Pettis was injured and forced to pull out of a scheduled title fight with featherweight champ Jose Aldo, the obvious replacement seemed to be Ricardo Lamas.
When Chan Sung Jung was given the shot, even he was surprised.
“To be honest with you, I thought Lamas would have been the first choice as well, but I’m happy to have been chosen,” Jung said through a translator in advance of his UFC 163 main event against Aldo in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night. “Until (UFC president) Dana White actually announced that I was going to be in the fight, I didn’t really even believe it but it was true.”
“The Korean Zombie” knows it’s time to actually fight now.
“I think maybe what made the difference was the stylistic differences and I think that this fight is guaranteed to be an exciting fight,” Jung said. “That’s probably one of the big reasons why they chose me to go over Llamas.”
■ CHANDLER SIGNS EXTENSION — Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight champion Michael Chandler signed an eight-fight extension, the organization announced. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney did not disclose contract details, but issued a release calling Chandler “one of the highest-paid lightweights in MMA.”
“I believe Michael is the best lightweight in MMA,” Rebney said. “Given that, I felt it was paramount to keep Michael at Bellator for the long term.”
The unbeaten 27-year-old defends his belt against David Rickels on Wednesday in the main event of Bellator 97 in Rio Rancho, N.M. The event will air tape-delayed on Spike TV (Cable 29) at 7 p.m.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.