It's funny how time works. The first half of the year seems to drag by for me, but that second half literally flies by. Now that we're officially into that warp speed mode of the latter half, we're finally getting some match-ups booked that really have some impact. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson was just officially announced, and the one I've most looked forward to, Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks, looks like it will find a home in November and will most likely be in Las Vegas, according to reports from Ariel Helwani. GSP not defending his title in Canada is an interesting twist, but I won't be complaining at all.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Johny for my MMA Sentinel show with my co-host Iain Kidd, and got his thoughts on the fear he perceives in St. Pierre, his career motivation, and what hand he plans to knock him out with. Here's what he had to say:
GSP's Idea for Fights Without Rounds
Yeah, you can throw two bears in there and watch them fight, but after a while it gets boring. Here's the thing: the reason why we have rounds is so that we can recover. Whenever you're able to recover, you can come out stronger, which makes the rounds exciting. If you just want to be able to lay and pray on somebody for 25 minutes and not have to get up, then yeah, of course you want that.
The fans want excitement. They want to see everybody get a fair shake. They want to be able to see these guys recover, because at the start of each round, it's all a brand new game. This sport is all about that. It's all about entertainment. If you do away with the rounds, it isn't about skill anymore. It becomes about who can last the longest. People want to see a fight.
GSP is Scared
There's a part of me that really believes that. If Kampmann would have beat me, do you think GSP would still have fought Nick Diaz? He wouldn't ... he would have fought Kampmann. I think he's worried about me; he knows that I have the skills to do what I can do.
I think in the Carlos Condit fight, he didn't know if he was 100%. He fought like he was 100%, that was the GSP we knew, but I think he wanted to get one more fight to make sure he was 100%. If I would have lost, Kampmann would have got that title shot. I think that's really what it boils down to. He doesn't know if he's 100% ready, mentally.
If he really thinks he's going to stay on the feet and stop me... I've fought more technical and more dangerous fighters than him, and I end up winning on the feet. So if he has that kind of attitude, awesome! It's going to be a very, very exciting fight, and that's what I'm going to make it.
Everybody says I don't like to use my wrestling. The reason why, is I know my job. I know my role. My role is to win, of course, but it's also to be entertaining and what I'm going to do -- force GSP to stand in front of me. We know he doesn't have knockout power. We've seen it time and time again. He's hit many people and hasn't hurt them at all. I've been hit by the same guys he has, and they stumbled him, wobbled him, and they've done nothing to me.
I'm not worried about his punches, I'm not worried about his kicks. He's going to come out and jab, jab, jab to try to get me to overextend myself - which I normally do in all of my fights, then he'll try to shoot on me, put me on my back, and go from there. That's GSP.
He is very effective with his movement, but GSP doesn't know about my speed and agility, from wrestling for years, my explosive power and ability to get in. The thing is, nobody has ever seen my true speed. I'm starting to work on my speed to get even faster, and that's my whole process right now. Speed kills. I know I have the power, and now it's about getting my hands as fast as I can and my takedowns as fast as possible. That's really what I'm focusing on.
I haven't shown my true strength out there yet. I've been holding it back because I like to have hidden power. I've yet to go into what my trainer calls 'beast mode'. Nobody has seen that. Everybody thinks they have, but no one has seen my true power yet. I'm usually at 80% out there, and I'm excited to get to use all my power. My training partners don't like it, because I'm so strong and working out so hard.
Belief in Wrestling Foundation
My pedigree speaks for itself. I'm stronger than anybody he's ever faced. I feel like my wrestling is better than anybody that he's faced. Everyone he's fought, I've fought as well, and they weren't able to do anything to me that they were able to do to GSP. That's something that builds my confidence up.
Being a wrestler, I've wrestled with torn hamstrings, with torn knees, with dislocated shoulders and elbows and still finished the weekend. That's wrestling. When I pulled my hamstring, I had to run to make weight, then wrestle two times the next day. But that's just how wrestling is. That's how strong your mind has to be.
I guess that's how wrestlers are bred: to conquer, to overcome. When you see other people, it's weird to see how they react. It makes you thankful that you wrestled. I love punching people in the face, but I'll never forget what got me here. Wrestling got me here. I can't forget where I came from.
Which Hand Lands the KO
[Laughs] I'm going to try with the right. That's my goal. Even in practice, I know it hits harder than my left right now, and in practice I've really been pulling it. If I really get into it, I know that I'll lay people out, and that's not what I want to do to people in the gym.
So right now, I'm trying to work on my speed, my movement off of my right hand: How do I do this? How do I do that? Where can I get hit from? I'm really playing with that right now, because what's going to happen is, if I can lay someone out with the right hand, it's going to make life a little easier.
Lessons Learned From Condit Fight
One thing I knew, was I could hang with him on the feet. I knew that I was faster and that I could land my punches. The only thing I didn't think he was going to do, was throw a bunch of knees. I knew he had done it in the past. He throws knees all the time, but with me being a wrestler, knees just give me an opportunity to take someone down, so I wasn't ready for that. After the first one, I made the adjustment and moved forward that way.
That was good for me, to get that kind of awareness and being able to adapt. I tell everybody all the time I need to be able to adapt second by second, and I was able to make that adjustment on the fly, which is nice to know, as a fighter.
The Beard & Becoming Famous
I shave it off sometimes, whenever I know I've got to go do something. That way, people get to know me outside of the beard, too. So many people look at me like, 'Was that him? Is that him?' I know this is going to fade, because great fighters come and go, the fame comes and goes, and what I want to do is make sure I'm accessible to anybody and everybody who wants to come and talk to me. That's what I want. I want to make sure that no matter what happens, I'm always there for the fans.
You know, I really don't want them to. I do this so that hopefully they don't have to. I will teach them a little bit, but I don't want them to [compete in MMA]. I like it, it's a great sport but... My wife grew up playing softball, basketball, track and stuff like that, and that's the way I want to push my girls too, and if they do venture into MMA, then we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
What Drives Him
What really drives me is what's in the back seat right now: my two little girls, and my third one on the way. That's really what drives me. I want them to get anything and everything, that's it. I want to provide everything I can for them. I know the money is not for me; it's for them. The title is for them, it's for my coaches, it's for everybody else. I'm the last on the pecking order when it comes to what it'll mean, or what it'll do for me. That's just the way I've always looked at things, and I plan to continue to do that.
I first started this knowing one day I would have a family, and I wanted to make sure... Say someone breaks through the window and I'm not able to get to my gun. I can still fend somebody off with my hands with what I've learned. Or, if I'm walking down the street with my girls, and somebody tries to do something, I can at least protect my girls and my wife with the skills I have developed.
That was really my main focus at getting into MMA. I didn't know if I'd be any good at it, but that was my main goal, and today it's still the same thing. Of course, even when I started, I wanted to be the UFC champ. I didn't know if those two things would ever come true, but I had a dream and I stuck with it.
All the fame and money is awesome, but that's going to come and go. The skills I've developed will protect me and my family for years. I guess my ambitions, my goals and dreams, are a little different [from most guys]. They all revolve around my family.The long hours, the hard training, missing birthday parties and stuff like that, to get to this dream and this goal is all for them, so that whenever I retire they don't have anything to worry about. That's really what it's all about.
You can follow Johny via his Twitter account, @JohnyHendricks