In July, at UFC 162, Chris Weidman scored one of the biggest upsets of all time when he knocked out Anderson Silva to win the UFC middleweight championship. Fans Octagonside at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas were stunned when a Weidman left hook laid out “The Spider” in the second round. But not everyone was surprised by the result. Now, some of the sport’s best athletes are predicting another long championship reign to end when welterweight king Georges St-Pierre collides with No.1 contender Johny Hendricks this Saturday.
The fight is the most eagerly-anticipated UFC welterweight title fight in years, with Las Vegas oddsmakers giving the Ada, Oklahoma-born Hendricks the best shot to take the title away from “GSP” in years. The No.1 ranked challenger is currently listed as +205 (or a little over 2-1) to snatch the title away, the narrowest odds offered on any GSP opponent since BJ Penn challenged the Canadian half a decade ago at UFC 94.
UFC president Dana White said: “Just like when Chris Weidman was challenging Anderson Silva, everywhere I go, I’ve got fighters telling me that they think the upset is happening in this fight. All the pros think Johny Hendricks is the biggest challenge that GSP has faced in his entire UFC career. Almost every fighter I’ve spoken to and every fighter we’ve interviewed thinks Hendricks is going to shock the world.”
Here, some of the biggest names in the UFC weigh in on what could be the upset of the year.
Carlos Condit (No.2 ranked welterweight contender, former interim UFC welterweight champion; has fought both St-Pierre and Hendricks)
“If I were a betting man, I’d take Johny Hendricks for the upset. You have to give Johny a huge chance in this fight. I’m most excited to see how their wrestling matches up. If Johny can stop the takedown, like a lot of people think he will, it is going to be very interesting.”
Chael Sonnen (No.6 ranked light heavyweight contender, three-time UFC title challenger)
“Johny is by far the biggest threat to GSP’s title, that’s obvious. Hendricks could be the guy to end GSP’s reign, we all get that. What’s getting missed here is the bigger story: If GSP wins this fight, he is the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC, the number one guy of the UFC’s first two decades. Hendricks will be the UFC champion in the future – I think we can all agree on that – so if GSP can beat him now he will not only be the greatest fighter of his era, but also of the Hendricks era. Every win Hendricks gets after losing to GSP would be a win for GSP, too. So this is an even bigger stakes match than people realize. I think GSP will show up in the form of his life – but I also think Hendricks wins this.”
Tim Kennedy (No.10 ranked middleweight contender)
“I think Johny Hendricks is the better fighter across the board. Better wrestler, better striker, takes a shot better – everything. But I think GSP, he’s just a freak, he will find a game plan to win on points. I really think that Hendricks should win this fight, but I won’t bet against GSP.”
Robbie Lawler (No.10 ranked welterweight contender)
“It’s going to be a tense first round for sure. I think whoever imposes their will and can get the ball rolling early will take it. Cardio is going to be the key and you know Georges will be ready to go the full five. Hendricks needs to come in shape and, if he does, he’s got a great chance to take the title.”
Matt Serra (former UFC welterweight champion, last man to defeat St-Pierre)
“Johny has been taking out a lot of tough guys, knocking guys out, so he has a huge puncher’s chance. Koscheck had a great right hand and a puncher’s chance against GSP, but nothing like this guy. GSP does fight safe, so the opportunities for Hendricks to land the shot are going to be few and far between, but he will get the chance and he has to be ready to take it. That’s what I did.”
Dan Hardy (UFC welterweight contender, former title contender who faced St-Pierre)
“The upset can happen. We all know GSP is the best problem-solver in the sport, but he’s got a hell of a problem in this fight. Johny Hendricks presents a different kind of danger than anyone else Georges has ever fought. GSP has beaten fighters with good power before, but Hendricks, to my mind, is the hardest single-shot puncher in the division. Johny Hendricks needs to hit you once, and that’s it. GSP has beaten great wrestlers – before, but no one anywhere near as decorated as Hendricks. Even if Johny’s wrestling enables him to stay standing for 10 minutes out of the scheduled 25, that’s still a hell of a long time for him to land one shot.”
Alexander Gustafsson (No.1 ranked light heavyweight contender)
“I definitely believe Hendricks has a chance to beat GSP. He’s a hard hitter with excellent wrestling skills, so anything can happen.”
Chad Mendes (No.1 ranked featherweight contender)
“I think Johny is gonna get this. GSP is super athletic, a great champion, but Johny’s wrestling and power gives him the advantage. GSP doesn’t have the best chin in the world, and actually I think he can’t take a shot even as well as he did a few years ago. I can see a second-round KO.”
Brian Stann (former middleweight contender, FOX Sports commentator)
“Georges is the all-round better fighter, but I think Johny is winning this fight. I think the years of being champion, fighting the best of the best, fight after fight, year after year, have taken a toll on GSP. His chin isn’t what it was and I think Johny’s takedown defense is so good that he will spend enough time on his feet to land the knockout shot. Johny is happy to take a few to land one, and I think that will happen. Carlos Condit did a lot of damage to Georges in their fight, and if Johny catches him like that it is over.”
Cat Zingano (No.1 ranked women’s bantamweight contender)
“GSP knows how not to lose fights, and I can see him not losing the fight. But, I have this feeling that Johny Hendricks is so wild, so unpredictable, that he will catch GSP. Hendricks is like a wind-up doll with a chainsaw and I don’t know how you can prepare for that. GSP will have had a hard time preparing for this style. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Hendricks wins the title.”
Michael Bisping (No.4 ranked middleweight contender)
“I’m going with Hendricks to put him to sleep in one round with a left hook. Hendricks has the capabilities of stopping GSP’s takedowns and, quite honestly, it is going to be a murder on the feet. Hendricks hits too hard and he can take a hell of a shot himself. Hendricks’ left hook is the most dangerous weapon in the entire welterweight division, and it will win him the UFC championship on November 16. Also, I’m just not sure if GSP really wants to do this anymore. He is the best welterweight of all time, perhaps the best UFC fighter of all time, period.”
Jake Shields (No.7 ranked welterweight contender, former welterweight title challenger)
“If I had to bet a lot of money on it, I’d go with GSP on points, but I think Johny has a real good chance because GSP doesn’t like getting hit. I’m excited to see two things happen in this fight. First, I want to see how GSP reacts to getting hit by someone who hits like Hendricks. Second, I’m really interested in how Hendricks deals with getting put on his back. Hendricks is a four-time NCAA Division I wrestling All-American, he’s not used to getting taken down, but it will happen fighting Georges. It will happen in the first round. If Johny can mentally deal with that, keep cool, get up and throw, he can win this fight.”
Matt Hughes (UFC Hall of Famer, former welterweight champion, fought GSP three times)
“I really think Hendricks has the tools to get his hand raised. He’s obviously got the wrestling, and along with the wrestling he’s got that big left hand. I don’t think Georges’ jab is going to be as effective against a southpaw, and he’s always going to know that when he’s close enough to throw that jab, Johny’s gonna be close enough to land that left. So I think that may play into Georges’ mind just a little bit and I think mentally Georges has some obstacles because he doesn’t like to get hit.”
Gray Maynard (No.5 ranked lightweight contender, two-time UFC lightweight title challenger)
“I’m going with Johny. He’s got the wrestling, the power and the more I hear from him, he just sounds confident, like he knows he’s got this. I’m calling the upset.”
Daniel Cormier (No.2 ranked heavyweight contender)
“I was able to work with Johny in the past and no one performs better when the lights are brightest. I pick Hendricks.”
Forrest Griffin (UFC Hall of Famer, former light heavyweight champion)
“Johny Hendricks is a way better wrestler than GSP, Johny Hendricks has way, way more power than GSP, and Johny Hendricks has a far, far, far better chin than GSP. Clearly, Johny Hendricks doesn’t stand a chance of pulling off the upset against GSP…”
Chuck Liddell (UFC Hall of Famer, former light heavyweight champion)
“I think Hendricks is really going to make GSP fight. GSP is a great, great fighter. And he really can fight, but he prefers not to and to think his way to victory. Johny won’t allow that to happen. I will say I thought all this before the last fight GSP fought Josh Koscheck, but I think the pace Johny fights at, how hard he hits with each shot, and how much he seems to want this makes this the most interesting GSP fight in years.”
Luke Barnatt (undefeated UFC middleweight)
“My money is on the upset. GSP is the greatest ever, but Hendricks is the most dangerous opponent GSP has faced in years. Hendricks has the best wrestling credentials in the UFC on paper, and has that one-punch KO power. GSP has the advantage over five rounds, but I see Hendricks finishing the fight early.”
Jimi Manuwa (undefeated UFC light heavyweight)
“I’d definitely give Hendricks a shot against GSP – he’s a great wrestler with powerful striking. I’m really looking forward to seeing this fight.”
Nik Lentz (No.8 ranked featherweight contender)
“GSP is the better fighter, overall, but Johny is the biggest puncher, pound-for-pound, in the sport. Maybe it is because we have the same nutritionist, Mike Dolce, but I think Johny wins the belt by knockout in the second round. Johny is going to get taken down, right away, but if Johny keeps calm, keeps going for the knockout and doesn’t get frustrated, he will land that shot.”
Jason High (UFC welterweight contender)
“I hate to go against my wrestling brother Johny Hendricks, but I think GSP might get him. Hendricks is definitely a tough nut to crack for him, but I think in a five-round fight, those fourth and fifth rounds could be a problem for Johny. Georges is always in shape and he’s fought five rounds a bunch of times, so I’ve got to go with the champ on this one.”
Ross Pearson (UFC lightweight contender)
“For this fight I would tell Hendricks to go out and take the fight to Georges, don’t wait for him, be first to do everything. I definitely think Hendricks can defeat Georges. He has scary power; he just has to make sure he uses it early in the fight.”
Brad Pickett (UFC flyweight contender)
“If I was a betting man I’d put my money on Hendricks. He has the finishing power that we’ve seen has caught GSP out before when he fought Matt Serra. We could be in for another Matt Serra upset. When it comes to tactics, GSP is the best he studies his opponents in so much detail. If Hendricks can keep unpredictable then he could outsmart GSP. My prediction would be GSP decision or Hendricks KO.”
UFC® 167: ST-PIERRE vs. HENDRICKS takes place Saturday, November 16, live from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The event will air live on Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. on UFC.TV, iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH Network, Avail-TVN, and in Canada on BellTV, Shaw Communications, Sasktel, and Viewer’s Choice Canada. UFC 167 will also be shown live in select Fathom Events theaters across the U.S. Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com.
For more information or current fight news, visit www.ufc.com. All bouts live and subject to change.
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