When UFC welterweight Johny Hendricks (12-1) steps into the Octagon itâ€™s easy to forget heâ€™s a former national champion wrestler twice over. The 28-year old has knocked out seven of the twelve opponents heâ€™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 heâ€™ll need both skill-sets to come away with the victory given Koscheckâ€™s own ability as a striker/grappler. Though heâ€™s not tipping his hand as to the exact area heâ€™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.
â€œI definitely believe that Iâ€™ve got the better wrestling. I wasnâ€™t a one-time (champion) â€“ 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,â€ said Hendricks in an interview with Rebellion MMA Radio. â€œNothingâ€™s better than getting a week of college wrestling in. Whenever I come back from that I feel like Iâ€™m in so much better shape.â€
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