Johny Hendricks’ coach on future UFC title challengers: 'It’s an interesting puzzle'


johny-hendricks-ufc-171In the crowded UFC welterweight division, it seems everyone has an opinion on what should be next for recently crowned champion Johny Hendricks.

Marc Laimon is no different.

Hendricks’ head coach at Team Takedown isn’t as firm on his stance as the fighters pleating for a crack at the gold. He just wants a name so he can get a head start on preparation.

“I don’t really care [who’s next],” Laimon recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “Right now we have such a deep talent pool of killers in the 170-pound division. Each guy is dangerous in a different way. I don’t know who the UFC is going to throw in there, but each one is a unique challenge.”

After narrowly failing to take the belt from Georges St-Pierre’s in November Hendricks (16-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) got some vindictation when he outpointed Robbie Lawler (22-10 MMA, 7-4 UFC) to take home the strap in the UFC 171 main event this past Saturday in Dallas.

While the challenges are only going to get more difficult, Laimon said that regardless of whose name comes up, he’s already chomping at the bit to strategize for his student.

“Going from GSP to Lawler, it’s a completely different dynamic,” Laimon said. “Whoever you throw in there next, it’s an interesting puzzle that the coaching staff and the fighter have to figure out. I can’t wait to see who it is so we can get to work on that. It’s a lot of fun breaking guys down and how to attack them.”

Even though the likes of Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard, Rory MacDonald and even Nick Diaz have been suggested as potential title challengers, Laimon refuses to throw a specific name in the mix.

Why? Because just like Hendricks has said in the past, the king doesn’t get a choice in who attempts to knock him off his throne.

“I just have to get Johny ready for whomever they put in front of us,” Laimon said. “Woodley, Lombard – all those guys present interesting problems, interesting body types. As a fan, I would be excited for any of those matchups.”

Laimon is one of the most dedicated coaches in the sport and was jubilant to see his prized pupil finally reach his goal of winning a world championship. Now, he wants the name of Hendricks’ next opponent as soon as possible, but a bicep injury that will require surgery is going to force the newly minted 170-pound titleholder to delay his first defense, likely until late 2014. That could be looked at as a negative for the weight class, but it could also provide time for an undisputed No. 1 contender to rise to the surface.

While everything else is being figured out, Laimon is still riding high after coaching a fighter to a UFC title for the first time. And though he would like to pat himself on the back for his contribution to that success, Laimon insisted the fighter would still be here without him.

“I wish I could take credit for it,” Laimon said. “It’s all Johny – that heart and that will to win. He has an unquenchable thirst to be No. 1. Johny is a very special individual, and I can’t take credit for it.

“I’ve definitely played a part in Johny’s success, but most of it is his will, determination and willingness to sacrifice for victory.”

For complete coverage of UFC 171, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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