Johny Hendricks knows he has a tremendous opportunity when he steps inside the cage to face Jon Fitch at UFC 141 in December.
Hendricks, a former Oklahoma State University two-time NCAA wrestling champion, is 11-1 in his MMA career, with his lone loss coming to Rick Story.
Now, he gets to battle a man that has competed for the UFC welterweight title and is 13-1-1 in his UFC career in Fitch.
“I’m watching films on him. I’m talking to (trainer Marc Laimon) on the phone. I talk to him and say, ‘This is what minute I’m at.’ We’re already game planning. We’re already sitting down and we’re already getting guys that are Fitch’s style,” said Hendricks, on Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show recently. “I know he’s going to try to take me down. He’s going to pass the guard and then he gets in a comfortable position, he’s going to make sure he lands enough and does enough damage to stay in that position.”
Like Hendricks, Fitch is an accomplished wrestler, having won 97 matches while competing for Purdue University. That could mean the ground game stays neutral and the fight moves towards a stand-up affair, something Hendricks is perfectly fine with.
“I hope it’s a striking match, but I don’t think it’s going to be that way,” Hendricks said. “I think what it’s going to be is who can impose their will in the wrestling. If I’m pushing him against the cage and taking him down, how is he going to be able to counter that? And also the same thing with me.”
Fitch’s lone loss inside the Octagon is to current UFC 170-pound champion Georges St-Pierre, while his only other non-win came in a draw with B.J. Penn earlier this year.
UFC 141 takes place on December 30 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The planned main event features Brock Lesnar facing Alistair Overeem.