Johny Hendricks has not watched his loss against Georges St. Pierre in UFC 167, and from the sounds of it he does not intend to any time soon.
Hendricks' plan now is to celebrate Christmas, and then train to fight for the welterweight belt GSP has relinquished. Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler on March 15, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas in UFC 171.
"You are going one way to another," Hendricks told me in a phone interview this week. "You are going from, 'Will I get that title shot? What will happen with GSP?'
When GSP recently announced he was stepping away from the sport, UFC president Dana White immediately announced this title bout.
"It's hard to explain how excited I was," he said. "Excited. Satisfied. Relieved."
The popular theory on Hendricks' loss was that he coasted in the fifth round, which allowed for judges' to give the nod to GSP in the decision. I asked Hendricks if he "let off the gas" against GSP.
"That's a little bit wrong; there were two things about that situation," he said. "He never put me in a situation where I thought I would lose. I wanted to maintain what I needed to do. Whenever he I checked one of his kicks (on his knee), it swelled up. I got up off the stool, and it collapsed on me.
"I didn't want to push it too much (in the fifth). I knew if it collapses on me, it was going to look really bad. What is worse - maintaining your lead, or not doing enough to get the job done? That knee had me a little worried. In that situation, I was one round away from a title, and I didn't want to risk giving up a take down. I thought I had it won; I thought, 'Let's go hard, but not too hard where you give up anything, or get knocked out.'"
Hendricks figures to be the favorite against Lawler, and to win the belt so many felt should already be his.
"If GSP comes back and says, 'Do you want a rematch?', I'm going to say yes," he said. "I would love to fight him again. It was a great fight. I want to fight the toughest guys. What I want to be is that people say, 'Who was that guy before Hendricks?' Do I think I can get it? I'm don't know but I want to try.
"What that fight told me was no matter how good you think you are doing, you need to do better."
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