In a little less than three weeks welterweights Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck will meet in a featured fight at UFC on FOX 3. Though both men were accomplished amateur wrestlers and possess knockout power, the similarities stop there with personalities as different as their trademark hair (Hendricks’ being on his chin of course).
Koscheck has earned a reputation for himself as a cocky-more-than-confident competitor who loves basking in media attention and belittling opponents when possible, while Hendricks’ resides on the opposite end of the spectrum as a modest man from the Midwest who simply loves the thrill of the game.
The 28-year old Oklahoman recently sat down with Rebellion MMA Radio where he updated fans on his current status, the excitement clearly evident in his voice.
“Training is going great. Everything is lining up the way that it should. It’s starting to get to where I can do more and more and more,” explained Hendricks. “I’ve done so much talking for this fight, more than I ever have, and I’m just ready to get into the Octagon and see him across the cage. That’s really all I care about right now.”
When he steps foot in the infamous eight-sided structure on May 5 he’ll do so on a three-fight winning streak including a twelve-second knockout of perennial contender Jon Fitch this past December. The ability to flatten Fitch might leave some fighters gunning to do the same in their next outing but Hendricks isn’t about to let one brutal finish define his overall skillset.
“Before the Jon Fitch fight not a lot of people knew who I was, not a lot of people knew my power,” said Hendricks, pointing to the increased awareness surrounding how dangerous his hands are.
“And I definitely didn’t think that was gonna happen….but I also know that, in the third round, if I need a knockout I have that power,” Hendricks continued, confident in the knowledge he can always turn an adversary’s lights out at any moment even if he’s been outclassed prior to landing a fight-ending punch.
Hendricks also avoids the pressure to perform based on others’ expectations, such as solely being a knockout artist, by tuning out a lot of the static surrounding the sport altogether. According to the 12-1 fighter, he already has enough on his plate to lend time or attention to strangers’ opinions.
“All that stuff is poison. Trash-talk and all that kind of stuff, it makes you think about everything BUT what you need to do,” the bearded brawler revealed. “I don’t read articles, I don’t do those kinds of things, because my main focus is one thing – I’ve gotta win that night. If you sit there and start reading stuff, and you read it and you read it and you read it, after three months you might believe it. That’s something I don’t want to fall into.”
Beyond sticking to his general gameplan in match-ups rather than resting on the laurels of his win over Fitch, another reason Hendricks may not rely purely on stand-up against Koscheck has to do with the belief he’s superior to anything the Ultimate Fighter alumnus has to offer on the mat. While both men won national titles in college, Hendricks’ repeated the feat and nearly did so a third time.
“I definitely believe that I’ve got the better wrestling. I wasn’t a one-time (champion) – I was a two-time and I lost my senior year match in the finals so I had a chance to be a three-time national champion,” stated Hendricks on the matter. “Plus, not only that, but I only live four hours away from Stillwater so I get to go to Stillwater every three weeks and spend a week up there.”
“Nothing’s better than getting a week of college wrestling in. Whenever I come back from that I feel like I’m in so much better shape,” he concluded, mentioning the lack of extended breaks in wrestling practice in addition to the hunger of college athletes 6-10 years younger who want to say they outperformed someone with his credentials.
(Hendricks material starts at approximately 57:00)
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC