Johny Hendricks is looking to build his own legacy in MMA, and he secretly hopes that former UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre is a part of it.
Much has changed since the epic yet controversial title fight from nearly a year ago.
St-Pierre is no longer an active fighter on the UFC roster, and Hendricks is the reigning welterweight champ. While “Big Rigg” refuses to dwell on the past, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the split-decision loss to St-Pierre at UFC 167 still irks him.
A chance to catch the torch from arguably the greatest fighter in MMA history eluded Hendricks that night, and sadly, it’s an opportunity he may never get back.
Hendricks told Ariel Helwani on Monday, during an appearance on The MMA Hour, that he would like a rematch with St-Pierre:
Realistically, I’m not going to lie. I would like to fight him again because now the tides are changed, and not only that, that was my first five round fight. I’m getting smarter, I’m getting better the longer I’m in the Octagon and the more I hit that fifth round. I don’t want to continue to hit that fifth round, but it’s a good learning curve, that first one was. That’s why I was sort of excited to think that I was going to get a rematch.
Unfortunately for Hendricks, the rematch with St-Pierre never came to fruition.
Who would win in a rematch?
A month after the bout, the French Canadian star vacated the UFC title and announced that he would be going on an indefinite hiatus during a media conference call. Instead of a rematch with St-Pierre, Hendricks was awarded a championship bout against top welterweight contender Robbie Lawler to fill the 170-pound title vacancy.
Hendricks defeated Lawler in a hard-fought decision victory. But even with the win and UFC title finally around his waist, it still has to be tough for Hendricks not to dwell on the decision loss to St-Pierre. He wanted to climb the mountain and be the man to finally upend the greatest welterweight of all time.
Just as UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman’s legacy began by defeating Anderson Silva, Hendricks hopes to do the same against St-Pierre:
I’m not here to take away from GSP. He did a lot of great things for this sport, a lot of great things for the welterweight division. I want to build my own legacy. If he’s in it, that’s awesome. If he’s not, that’s cool too. I’ll never beat his legacy. I’ll never beat Matt Hughes’ or Chuck Liddell’s or Randy Couture’s [legacies]. I got to make my own dent in the welterweight division my own way.
Hendricks may have missed out on an immediate rematch with the MMA legend, but there is still the possibility that the fight comes together in the future.
St-Pierre never officially retired from MMA. He made it clear that retirement was an option, but he would also be open to the possibility of returning in the future if the circumstances felt ideal. During an appearance on TVA Sports, St-Pierre claimed to have packed on 10 pounds of muscle just in case he decided to return and compete in the welterweight division.
MMAFighting’s Helwani translated an overview of the interview on Twitter:
GSP still won't commit to a comeback yet, but he says he now weighs approx 200 lbs, 10 more than usual, according to @naaudet_TVA.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 25, 2014
Either St-Pierre is the biggest tease in the world, or he is seriously contemplating a UFC return. It’s highly unlikely that a decision is made anytime soon, as St-Pierre is still recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee.
In the meantime, Hendricks can now shift his focus to an upcoming rematch with Lawler.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.