The former UFC welterweight champion and all-time MMA great stepped away from the sport in 2013, after more than a decade of dominant performances. Coming up on four years later, he’s getting ready to return. GSP isn’t far removed from his athletic prime, at just 35 years of age, but it’s hard to know whether all the time he’s taken off will be a benefit, or merely dulled the once-finely tuned reactions of a world class athlete.
Former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, who met GSP in his final bout before retirement (and took a controversial loss), doesn’t seem to have particularly high expectations for ‘Rush’’s return to competition. In a recent interview on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Hendricks talked about GSP’s comeback and why he expects that it will be harder than expected (transcript via MMA Mania).
“I am (surprised to see him back),” Hendricks responded when asked about GSP’s return. “I wish he would’ve stayed out. But you know what, a competitor is always going to be a competitor and we’ll see how he comes back. I heard he might becoming to 185, so you know I do (want a piece).”
“So like I went through my rough period,” ‘Bigg Rigg’ continued, speaking of his recent three fight losing streak, “ and I did something and was able to bounce back. Whenever he went through his rough period, he got out. Yeah, you can train, yeah you could do these things, but has he done enough to where he is going to be able to come back a different fighter?”
More, perhaps, than even being in a “rough period,” Hendricks seems to feel that his bout with GSP laid out a pretty clear road to defeating the legend. And it’s a gameplan that he feels others could still follow with success.
“Time changes, it always does,” Hendricks said. “One day, the time is going to change where I am not going to be able to compete with these guys anymore. It’s just the way that it is. Once I showed how to defeat Georges St-Pierre, I think people are going to start using that gameplan and it’s going to be harder on him.”
Of course, if GSP is coming back to the cage to face Michael Bisping, he probably won’t have to worry about the same kind of power striking and wrestling attack that Hendricks was able to deploy. Then again, as a 6’ 2” former light heavyweight, Bisping would probably present a whole different list of challenges.