Georges St. Pierre has held the welterweight title since April 19, 2008. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Georges St. Pierre has held sway over the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division for more than five years.
St. Pierre will defend his title against the once-beaten Johny Hendricks in the UFC 167 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The 32-year-old champion will enter the Octagon on a career-best 11-fight winning streak, having already established himself as the greatest welterweight in UFC history in the minds of many.
Sherdog.com touched base with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC 167 headliner:
Martin Kampmann: I think GSP is going to fight him from the outside using that jab. Hendricks is going to come right at him throwing those bombs, but GSP is going to duck down for that double-leg, and it will all come down to whether or not he can get it. I think GSP is going to fight him from the outside. Hendricks still has the chance to catch him with one of those bombs, but I think GSP will take it.
Vinny Magalhaes: I go with Johny. He’s a friend of mine, and I think his style is really dangerous for GSP. He’s got heavy hands and he’s another guy, like Jake Ellenberger, who is not going to back down and he’s going to go right at GSP. He’s not afraid of GSP’s takedowns, and he’s not afraid of his ground game, so I’m sure he’ll get him.
Joe Duarte: For breakfast, Hendricks consumes four scrambled eggs, five strips of bacon and a log. “Bigg Rigg” wins by KO.
Ricardo Liborio: Hendricks will win by decision.
Benji Radach: I’m going to shoot for Hendricks on this one. I think he has what it takes to shellshock the champ and possibly slow down the wrestling control that GSP is so dominant at. That will make this fight more of a fistfight than the wrestling-dominant fights GSP seems to deliver to win. Stoked to see how this one unfolds.
Jason Dent: Pulling for GSP to retain his title yet again. I believe GSP is more well-rounded and a smarter, more technical fighter than Hendricks. Even if Hendricks keeps GSP standing, I still think GSP can pick him apart with this being a five-round fight.
Michael Guymon: I have Hendricks by KO in the first round. He has great wrestling and power, and Georges is going to get hit with something hard. GSP is going to try and take down Johnny, and it’s not going to happen.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: Hendricks wins by TKO. I think he has the right skill set to take the belt. Hendricks throws bombs and has the wrestling to back it up. Some of the other wrestlers GSP faced didn’t have the KO power. Guys like Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch didn’t possess that one-punch KO ability. GSP is going to have a lot of problems with Hendricks. Hendricks holds onto the belt briefly, until Robbie Lawler gets his title shot.
Keith Berry: I’m taking Hendricks. He has the better beard for “Movember.”
Gabe Ruediger: I think this is a great matchup and should be interesting. I do, however, think that unless Hendricks hits GSP with something GSP isn’t prepared for, which I don’t see happening, it will be another GSP decision win. GSP’s MMA wrestling is just too good. Hendricks’ wrestling credentials are amazing, but wrestling for MMA is a different animal. GSP will do what he always does, in my opinion.
Brian Melancon: I’d like to see Hendricks take it to mix things up, but I think GSP learned from the Serra fight. He will use his jab and speed advantage to stay outside, as well as use his wrestling enough to keep him guessing, and win a decision.
Cameron Diffley: I want Hendricks to win, but I really think Georges is going to pull this off with technique and experience.
T.J. Waldburger: Hendricks has knockout power, so that’s a factor, but I see GSP outwrestling the wrestler by decision. Look out for that fist, though.
Brock Jardine: Fear the beard. Hendricks wins by KO.
Tom DeBlass: GSP wins with controlling the distance and setting up his takedown with strikes. Hendricks is a very tough fighter, but GSP is a master of game planning.
Luke Barnatt: Hendricks becomes the new welterweight champion. It’s his time.
James Vick: I got Hendricks by second-round knockout.
Nick Ring: I got GSP.
Caros Fodor: Huge Hendricks fan, and as much as I would love for him to win, I think GSP will be able to take him down and win on points.
Robert Drysdale: That’s a tough one. That’s a tough fight for GSP. He’s probably my favorite fighter out there. I look up to the guy because he really is the complete package, but Johny is a very tough fight for him because he has the tools to beat him. On paper, Johny is a better wrestler, but when it comes to MMA wrestling, GSP is the best out there. Johny is so heavy-handed, though, and anybody he hits gets knocked out. We’ve seen GSP get knocked out before, too, and Hendricks is very deceiving with his striking. It’s a very unorthodox style, where it’s not a typical kickboxing-type of striking.
He’s very explosive, and when he lands, it’s hard, so GSP had better have some great head movement. I like the way Carlos Condit fought Hendricks, and that is the way GSP should fight him because it’s a very smart way to fight him. As long as GSP fights like that, with lots of footwork and head movement, and doesn’t stand right in front of him, GSP should be OK. He needs to use his timing, and I think he’ll take Johny down. If he gets on top, he’ll have a huge advantage. Though Johny has good jiu-jitsu -- I’ve rolled with him before, and he’s good -- GSP will have an advantage if he gets on top. If GSP can stay on top of him and grind him out every time he takes him down, he’ll win a decision or maybe even stop him late; but if GSP just stands right in front of him, Hendricks can knock him out.
Bristol Marunde: GSP is a high-performance athlete, while Hendricks has raw power and aggression. Whose style will prevail? I expect GSP will be too fast for Hendricks and will cruise to a decisive victory.
Zach Makovsky: Hendricks is a tough fight for anyone, but GSP is the most intelligently prepared fighter there is. He is well-rounded enough to expose anyone’s gaps, and that’s what he will do with Hendricks. GSP controls the fight from the start and gets a late stoppage or decision win.
Igor Araujo: GSP will survive the first round and take it by decision.
Ray Elbe: GSP is the more complete fighter and beats Hendricks by a lopsided decision.
Mitch Clarke: GSP wins by decision. I think Hendricks will be overaggressive and that will lead to him getting taken down and/or gassing out.
Brian Foster: I may be kind of biased here, but I like Johnny in this one. Georges has an insane ability to follow a game plan to a T, and that could prove to be his biggest strength in this fight. Where he is tactical from an outside striking standpoint, I think he can make a statement with his ability to pick Johny apart, and the longer the fight goes, the better Georges’ chances. Johny has probably the best inside game I have ever seen: explosive power in both hands and a tremendous ability in transitioning from striking to takedowns due to his wrestling background. Even though Johny has shown both traits I expressed, his ability yet to be shown is his grappling. I assure you he is just as good there as anywhere else. The guy is an amazing athlete, and I believe he has what it takes to break the reign of GSP and put on his own record run for pound-for-pound best in the world.
J.J. Ambrose: I’m going with Hendricks in this one. Superior wrestling and a mean left hand leads to a TKO in the second or third round.
Jeff Hougland: Hard to pick against such a dominant champion, but I’m going to go with Hendricks with the upset decision victory.
John Gunderson: I’m going with GSP by decision. Johny obviously has the power to catch GSP, but as we’ve seen so many times before, GSP can take any fighter down and impose his will. I wouldn’t be surprised if Georges outstrikes him with his counterstriking abilities. That all being said, I’m pulling for Johny to pull off the upset.
Mark Bocek: GSP wins by decision.
Eric Prindle: Hendricks wins by second-round knockout.
Colton Smith: In Hendricks, you have the best wrestler and most physical fighter GSP has faced to date. “Bigg Rigg” wins by TKO in round two.
Nam Phan: I have to root for my boy, GSP. You can never count him out.
Kyle Kingsbury: GSP wins in every category and takes down “Bigg Rigg” more than once.
Travis Wiuff: I always take the wrestler, so my immediate reaction is Hendricks. The problem is GSP may be the best wrestler in MMA. He took down Hughes and Koscheck like they were average wrestlers. I have to take GSP by decision.
Daron Cruickshank: GSP all the way.
Daniel Downes: I don't know if it's Hendricks' left hand or his disarming southern drawl, but I'm surprised at the number of people picking him to win. GSP may not have been lighting the MMA world on fire with his recent performances, but he's shown very few weaknesses. Hendricks has the KO power, but the Condit fight showed that he can be reckless at times and GSP will exploit that to earn another unanimous decision.
Javier Vazquez: I'm so excited for this fight! The thing that makes me look forward to this fight the most is that Hendricks is focused on wrestling. He didn't forget his roots. Most guys who fight GSP focus on striking. Hendricks is focused on staying on his feet and this is very smart. I think GSP will be diverse with his striking. I think it will be a tough fight for GSP and he has all the skills to win but I'm going to pick against him for the first time in a long time. Hendricks by decision to become the new UFC champion.
THE FINAL TALLY
Pros Picking St. Pierre: 21
Pros Picking Hendricks: 16
No Pick: 1
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