UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks can point to one reason why he thinks a rematch with now-retired titleholder Georges St-Pierre is in the future.
St-Pierre, Hendricks recently told MMAjunkie Radio, is still a consistent presence in the media, despite formally retiring in December.
“I don’t read it, but people tell me (what he says),” Hendricks (16-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) said. “He’s been saying that he’s walking around at 201 (pounds). Huh, cool. Whatever.”
Of course, there are other reasons the French-Canadian fighter is in the spotlight. He remains one of MMA’s most recognizable faces and one of its most popular combatants, and he had one of the longest title runs in UFC history.
Also, St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) made the unfortunate choice of expressing support for a Canadian drug pin, which later brought regrets and apologies from the 33-year-old fighter.
For Hendricks, the subject of St-Pierre is one that is likely to hang over him until the two meet again. This past November, at UFC 167, St-Pierre won a controversial decision over Hendricks and then stepped away from the sport, opening a void that hasn’t completely been filled by Hendricks’ subsequent winning of the belt.
As the new champ has said many times, he would like to rematch St-Pierre, but he won’t consider his career incomplete if the chance doesn’t arise.
Next up for the champ is the completion of rehabilitation for a bicep injury he sustained while beating Robbie Lawler in May for the vacant belt. He will meet the winner of the upcoming bout between Lawler (23-10 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and Matt Brown (19-11 MMA, 12-5 UFC) that headlines UFC on FOX 12 on Saturday.
Until then, he has time to entertain a variety of thoughts about the welterweight division and, of course, St-Pierre.
Hearing the former champ speak about weight is a particularly amusing topic for Hendricks, who frequently tips the scales at more than 200 pounds prior to a fight. A fast-food addict, the champ still entertains the thought of moving to the middleweight division at some point.
When St-Pierre speaks about packing on pounds, Hendricks interprets it as the ex-champ talking himself up in advance of a comeback – and he believes it’s nothing to brag about.
“Just because you put on an extra pounds doesn’t mean it’s muscle, and just because you put on an extra two or three pounds of muscle doesn’t mean you’re going to be strong as me,” he said.
“He didn’t feel that strong,” Hendricks added about their UFC 167 fight. “And so that’s just one of those things where I’d like to face him again. Now, I’ve got the belt, and he has to beat me. And realistically, I don’t think he’s going to.
“The more that I’m training for these five-round fights, I’m getting better, and I’m still young at this. Most of the guys I’m fighting are 10, 12, 14 years they’ve been fighting. I’m only seven. I’m still developing my striking, trying to tune it up. Everything is starting to fall into place.”
This weekend, Hendricks will turn his attention to the title eliminator between Lawler and Brown. Betting lines favor Lawler to win the fight, meaning fans are betting he’ll face the current champ again.
Hendricks’ opinion on the key matchup, as well as other division contenders, is not nearly as strong. The way he sees it, it’s better to not talk too much about potential opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.
Eventually, he said, he may have to fight all of them.
“Realistically, I don’t really care (who wins on Saturday),” Hendricks said. “There’s a part of me that would like to face Robbie again being healthy. But then again, there’s a part of me that wants somebody new. I’m torn on this fight. Also, I don’t like to pick the welterweight class because if I sit here and (say), ‘Robbie Lawler is going to smash Matt Brown,’ and all of a sudden Matt Brown beats him, did I give him fuel for to fight me? And vice-versa.
“I’d like to see how it plays out because I think they both have a chance to win.”
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