Aug. 7, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA; UFC fighter Johny Hendricks celebrates during the welterweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

The Next Step For Johny Hendricks

Every elite fighter has that one significant win that propels them to the top tier of their weight class.  For Rashad Evans that win was over Chuck Liddell, for Cain Velasquez that win was over Big Nog, for Ben Henderson that win was over Jim Miller, and for Johny Hendricks that win could be over Josh Koscheck at UFC on FOX 3 this Saturday.

The 28 year-old, Oklahoma State product surprised the MMA world by being the only man not named George St. Pierre to defeat Jon Fitch in the past nine years.  A win over Jon Fitch should propel any fighter to elite status, but due to nature of Hendricks’ 12 second KO win over Fitch, many in the MMA community feel as though it was a fluke win.

Defeating Josh Koscheck, a perennial top welterweight, would silence the doubters and put Hendricks in prime position to compete for the UFC Welterweight Championship.

Hendricks, a former 2 time NCAA Champion, has a wrestling pedigree, but wrestling isn’t what has defined his MMA career.  He has lived up to his nickname of “Bigg Rigg” with two of his last three fights ending in brutal knock-out fashion.  So brutal, those finishes earned him a couple fat bonus paychecks from Dana White.

At first glance, the Hendricks/Koscheck fight looks to be a boring wrestling match, but upon further examination it will likely be anything but that.

Similar to Hendricks, Koscheck is also a wrestler that has fallen in love with the striking game.  Combine that with Hendricks aggression, and a win for Hendricks in exciting fashion over a veteran like Koscheck would propel him atop of the welterweight food chain.

Proven by his post-victory celebrations in his college wrestling career, Hendricks understands the concept of being entertaining in sports, and a win over a second straight AKA product would put him in the position to entertain a lot of fans and make a lot of money.

As far as his chances of beating Josh Koscheck go, well, it really depends on what Kosheck does.  It’s clear that Hendricks is a talented offensive wrestler, but the way he was handled by Rick Story in his lone loss of his career really brings to question whether or not he can defend Koscheck’s take-down attempts.  If Koscheck looks to bully Hendricks and take him down then I foresee him avenging the loss of his friend, Jon Fitch.

Now if Koscheck believes that he is a better technical striker and decides to battle Hendricks on the feet then he could have long night.  Koscheck is a talented striker, but I don’t think he could last three rounds with Hendricks who has an unbelievably powerful punch.  A stand-up fight between the two could be similar to Koscheck’s fight with Paulo Thiago at UFC 95.

May 5th, 2012 is the date for Johny Hendricks’ biggest fight of his young career.  A win could validate his last victory over Jon Fitch and establish him in the sport for a long time, but a loss could send Hendricks down the ladder that took him so much time to climb.


And now a tweet from Jose Canseco

[blackbirdpie url="!/JoseCanseco/status/194915827047333888"]

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