It looks like Johny Hendricks (15-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) and Georges St-Pierre (24-2 MMA, 18-2 UFC) agree on a timeframe for their meeting.
Hendricks on Tuesday told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that he anticipates fighting St-Pierre in September, which falls in line with an update earlier today from the welterweight kingpin’s camp. St-Pierre’s manager dispelled reports of an extended layoff due to an Achilles tendon injury and said fans could expect to see “Rush” return to the cage in late summer or early fall.
With ample time to prepare, Hendricks said he’ll focus on shoring up weaknesses that were exposed in his UFC 158 fight with Carlos Condit, which ended in a unanimous decision win.
“I’ve got a lot of things to improve on, which is good to know,” Hendricks said. “What I’m going to do for the next month and a half is I’m going to work on exactly what I need to work on to get better.”
The good news, he said, is that no one is in front of him to fight the champ. St-Pierre removed a final obstacle by beating Nick Diaz in the headliner of the March 16 pay-per-view event at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Diaz stepped ahead of Hendricks despite losing a previous fight to Condit.
Hendricks, who previously had beaten five straight opponents, staged a brief protest when the UFC installed Diaz and then accepted his fate. He then decided he would make it impossible for St-Pierre to evade him by beating the former interim champ.
“I just don’t see anybody else stepping in front of me, and that’s really what it boils down to,” Hendricks said. “That’s why a win over Condit has been so good, to know that this week I’m not getting a call or seeing on Twitter that somebody else is getting the fight. I know it’s me.”
Condit certainly didn’t make it easy. A late-fight surge pushed Hendricks to his limit and forced him to fall back on his wrestling skills. The crowd at the Bell Centre backed Condit and booed the decision.
Despite his win, Hendricks wasn’t so sure he’d convinced the UFC he was the next man in line to fight St-Pierre. So uncharacteristically, he offered a direct challenge to St-Pierre, saying he would come to the champ’s house to fight if his title opportunity was again denied.
“I knew that if I didn’t do something to make sure that I got that fight, if somebody overstepped me, I’d be devastated,” Hendricks said. “So throwing that out there, I thought it wasn’t over my boundaries, but it was still good enough to say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going to happen.’ So it’s in between the nice guy and over-the-top trash talk.”
Hendricks was calmed after the post-fight news conference when UFC President Dana White confirmed him as the next challenger. He felt happy to sit next to St-Pierre as a No. 1 contender.
Now, he returns to the gym to prove himself worthy of being the champion.
“We’ll throw some GSP things in there, but we’ll focus on what I did and what I need to improve on,” Hendricks said. “Then once it gets closer for sure the date, then we’ll focus on what I need to do, but also what he can do.”
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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