ARLINGTON, Texas – Johny Hendricks can envision himself one day defending a UFC title at AT&T Stadium.
But first Hendricks has to figure out a way to beat UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre Nov. 16 at UCF 167 in Las Vegas to get the title from one of the sport’s biggest stars.
Hendricks got a taste of what it would be like to fight at the home of the Dallas Cowboys Friday as both he and St-Pierre were in Arlington to conclude their promotional tour for the fight.
For Hendricks, it was a chance to get back home as he lives just outside the Metroplex in Midlothian and trains just outside Arlington in Pantego. His goal now is to bring back a UFC title to the area.
“This means everything,” said Hendricks, who is 15-1 as a professional MMA fighter. “I’ve set out a goal to achieve. Six years ago I wanted to be a UFC champ and I’m one fight away from that. Nobody cares about second. I realize that from my college days. Nobody cares about third. They care about that gold medal and I’ve got to get it. No matter what happens I’m going to get my hands on that title.”
St-Pierre will have a lot to say with that. The Canadian champ is 24-2 and first won the UFC welterweight title in 2006. He’s been the title holder since 2008 and has won his last six fights in five-round decisions.
His style of fighting contrasts with Hendricks, who comes from a wrestling background and swings for the fences when he’s in the Octagon. Since his lone loss in 2010, Hendricks has knocked out two opponents. He got his chance at the title in May by winning a three round unanimous decision over Carlos Condit.
“I have power and GSP has been kicked, he’s been wobbled,” Hendricks said. “With that being said, if I touch him and hit the right spot it’s not over. I’m not training for that. I know I’ve got a great champion on my hands. I’ve got to train for a five-round fight. If I’m not, I’m dumb.”
While he hasn’t won a UFC title, Hendricks has plenty of championship experience. He won back-to-back NCAA wresting titles for national powerhouse Oklahoma State in 2005 and 2006. The Oklahoma native made the move to MMA in 2007 with his eyes squarely on winning a title.
“Good things come to those who wait,” Hendricks said. “I got that Condit fight and he’s a tough individual, proven. In that fight I learned a lot about myself too. There’s still a couple of holes in my game. We were never in that situation. On November 16, it will be the best Johny Hendricks.”
While Hendricks is trying to beat St-Pierre, there was no trash talking Friday in Arlington. Instead, both fighters praised each other with St-Pierre paying Hendricks the ultimate compliment.
“I like Johny,” St-Pierre said. “He’s a great guy, a great professional, a great role model for the sport. If I would have a kid I would like my kid to look up to him. He’s a great athlete and a great person. It’s nothing personal. We both want to be the best at what we do. The best man will win and I will shake his hand after the fight no matter what.”
Hendricks has nothing but respect for St-Pierre either. But he’s also standing in between Hendricks and the championship.
Something has to give in November and Hendricks believes it will be St-Pierre.
“Don’t worry about him,” Hendricks said of his strategy. “He’s just a human. He’s human like me. I’ve beat the same guys he has. I just didn’t have the belt around my waist.”