Two things become immediately apparent when speaking to Johny Hendricks:
1. He is a relentlessly motivated athlete with a devastating left hook who believes he can be the best fighter in the world;
2. He’s really, really nice.
Though these aspects of his personality may seem in stark contradiction, Hendricks doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m a very peaceful man,” he tells Fighters.com over the phone from a golf course near his home in Mansfield, Texas.
“Conflict isn’t in my nature, and I think that’s why I enjoy fighting so much.”
Again, this sounds like an oxymoron — the pacifist UFC fighter. But the way Hendricks explains it in his well-mannered, good-ol’-boy Texan drawl, it seems perfectly sensible.
Professional fighting, he says, gives him an acceptable avenue to unleash the inner aggression and competitive urges that he says reside dormant in everyone. By exorcising that side of himself inside the Octagon, he can happily spend the rest of his life playing golf, being “a good daddy,” practicing his faith and generally being a really nice dude.
So you’re inclined to believe him when he says things like this: “I try not to do anything wrong. If I see a guy who looks like he wants to fight, I’ll move out of the way faster than anyone else.”
Unless, that is, the guy wants to fight Hendricks inside the Octagon – and especially if that guy happens to be Georges St-Pierre.
“If GSP says he wants to fight in two weeks, guess what: I’ll see you in two weeks,” says Hendricks. “I’m ready.”
Having recently dispatched Martin Kampmann with a first-round knockout (not long after beating Jon Fitch in similar fashion), Hendricks says he has earned a Welterweight title shot against St-Pierre.
In fact, he won’t settle for anything less.
“You won’t see me until I fight GSP,” he says. “That’s the fight I want, because nothing else matters other than getting a shot at that belt.”
Hendricks adds that he would be “extremely, extremely disappointed” if the UFC powers-that-be were to pit GSP against anyone else (rumors still swirl about a dream match between St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, and St-Pierre’s camp has also expressed a desire for a Nick Diaz fight).
Hendricks believes UFC matchmakers will “make the right decision,” and that he has the skills and motivation necessary to dethrone St-Pierre as the sport’s top fighter.
But Hendricks also believes, thanks to his religious conviction, that “everything happens for a reason, so there’s no use in worrying or stressing out.”
If he has to wait, he’ll wait. If he has to face someone other than GSP for a title shot, he’ll do that.
“I want to win that belt,” he says. “My goal is to get a shot at the belt, win it, and defend it until I wake up and I’m no longer happy with my job. As soon as this becomes a job, I’m going to retire on the farm and just enjoy myself. But I want that title shot.”
With that, the ever-friendly Hendricks says “thank you so much” for the interview and resumes a leisurely, peaceful round of golf.