When UFC welterweight Johny Hendricks (12-1) steps into the Octagon it’s easy to forget he’s a former national champion wrestler twice over. The 28-year old has knocked out seven of the twelve opponents he’s beaten and fights like a boxer more than a mat-based technician. Nonetheless, Hendricks was indeed the last man standing at his weight-class in two of his collegiate seasons and a finalist in a third (not to mention a couple All-American nods along the way).
When Hendricks faces Josh Koscheck (17-5) in a few weeks at UFC on FOX 3 he’ll need both skill-sets to come away with the victory given Koscheck’s own ability as a striker/grappler. Though he’s not tipping his hand as to the exact area he’s focusing on more than the other, Hendricks definitely seems confident when it comes to which of the two is superior when it comes to one phase of the game.
“I definitely believe that I’ve got the better wrestling. I wasn’t a one-time (champion) – I was a two-time and I lost my senior year match in the finals so I had a chance to be a three-time national champion. Plus, not only that, but I only live four hours away from Stillwater so I get to go to Stillwater every three weeks and spend a week up there,” said Hendricks in an interview with Rebellion MMA Radio. “Nothing’s better than getting a week of college wrestling in. Whenever I come back from that I feel like I’m in so much better shape.”
Hendricks added his ability to go back to Oklahoma State, where he wrestled collegiately, is unlike any training he gets in a MMA gym based on the work-rate and added effort each athlete puts in towards hoping to say they one-upped a UFC fighter (not to mention award-winning wrestler).
Hendricks-Koscheck will be part of an all-star card on May 5 headlined by lightweights Jim Miller and Nate Diaz dueling for divisional contendership. Other featured fights include Pat Barry-Lavar Johnson and Alan Belcher-Rousimar Palhares.
(Hendricks material starts at approximately 57:00)
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC