Johny Hendricks’ dreams border on nightmares in the weeks leading up to his fights.
In his first several visions, the top UFC welterweight contender loses in a matter of seconds. Hendricks told FOXSports.com he’s lost to Saturday’s UFC 158 opponent, Carlos Condit, several times in his mind already.
“He’s gotten me in an armbar. He’s knocked me out,” Hendricks said. “He’s beaten me in about every way possible. I’ve seen so many of his fights and what he’s done to win that they make it into my dreams.”
Hendricks said his subconscious has run wild since his junior year at Oklahoma State in 2006, where he went 29-1 and repeated as the NCAA champ in the 165-pound division. The dreams have continued ever since, even if he’s lost many more times in his mind than he has on the wrestling mat (Hendricks’ only defeat as a senior came in the NCAA championship match) or in the cage (Hendricks has lost once in 15 career pro fights).
“The dreams started as I began to be a little more dominant,” Hendricks said. “Whenever you win, you sometimes forget about how hard you have to work. Maybe losing in my mind helps fuel me.”
Closer to the fight, Hendricks visualizes victory. Hendricks is already the No. 1 contender according to the official UFC rankings and if a victory over Condit becomes a reality, Hendricks is all but guaranteed a shot at the welterweight belt. Georges St-Pierre, who faces Nick Diaz in the UFC 158 main event, currently holds that title as he has nonstop since 2008.
Hendricks has taken some verbal swipes at St-Pierre in recent weeks. He called St-Pierre “an idiot” on MMAmania’s Verbal Submission podcast for saying that he thought Diaz — not Hendricks — was the top welterweight contender.
A little closer to Saturday’s fight, Hendricks wasn’t nearly as hard on St-Pierre. Nearly.
“I think that he’d rather not fight a guy with knockout power,” said Hendricks, who has knocked out three of his last five opponents. “Wrestling is his main thing. I think he’d rather fight a guy who has good jiu jitsu and good at striking. That’s what he did. Nick is a tough fighter, but GSP has been rocked a couple times in his career. Nick doesn’t have the (power) or the wrestling that I do.”
Hendricks said he won’t be doing much talking when he sees St-Pierre in Montreal later this week, at least at first.
“He’s not the guy I’m worried about,” Hendricks said. “If I win, then yeah, I’ll do some talking. Not beforehand. If I lose to Condit, I’m an idiot. Condit is a tough fighter and he has a great shot at beating me. I can’t overlook him.”
Hendricks was originally scheduled to face Jake Ellenberger at UFC 158. Hendricks volunteered to replace an injured Rory MacDonald (after the final Strikeforce welterweight titleholder Tarec Saffiedine passed on the opportunity). Nate Marquardt will fight Ellenberger on the undercard in Hendricks’ place.
“I think it was a smart move,” Hendricks said. “If I can go over there and face Carlos Condit and beat him, there is nothing else standing in my way of getting a title shot. That was my thought process. If I win, I’ve beaten everybody minus GSP.”
The visions will likely continue for Hendricks if that bout gets scheduled and there’s plenty of material for his mind to process when it comes to St-Pierre, who has successfully defended his title eight consecutive times.
“These have always been the same,” Hendricks said. “I can’t stop it.”