Johny Hendricks may not get another shot at Georges St. Pierre, but he will be fighting for the UFC welterweight title when he meets Robbie Lawler on March 15 at UFC 171.
“It was never about Georges,” Hendricks told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Wednesday. “It was always about the belt. That’s all that matters to me and that’s still what I’m looking at.”
Hendricks dropped a controversial split decision to St. Pierre on Nov. 16 at UFC 167. However, last week St. Pierre announced he was vacating the belt to step away from the sport indefinitely. The UFC didn’t hesitate to pair Hendricks with Lawler to crown the next champion.
“I’ve got to focus all on him,” Hendricks said of Lawler. “If I overlook him, then I’m going to get beat. He’s done amazing things since he’s got back into the UFC and I’ve got to make sure that I’m 100-percent focused on him. The past is the past.”
Lawler is 3-0 since returning to the UFC. He’s finished Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker, and most recently outpointed Rory MacDonald the same night Hendricks went the distance with St. Pierre.
Besides having plenty of power and experience, Lawler is also a southpaw. Hendricks lost to a lefty in December 2010 when he fought Rick Story, but he isn’t worried about a repeat performance against Lawler.
“I think what happened [against Story] was just poor game planning,” Hendricks said. “There’s a lot of things that we should have done differently, that we didn’t. I actually enjoy sparring southpaws because there’s things that I can do to get myself in better position. I’ve been fighting a lot of boxers in my gym, and whenever they switch to southpaw, I actually feel more comfortable. That’s great when I know I’m fighting somebody like Robbie Lawler who’s got power in his hooks and in his straights because there’s some things I can do to sort of prevent myself from being in those bad positions.”
Hendricks has also learned from his loss to St. Pierre, though he still thinks he won the fight and is not alone in that opinion.
“It does suck that it is a loss, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “… You’ve just got to move forward from that. I can’t just constantly think of that. The way that it went, it sucks, but I’m looking towards the future and who knows? In time, [St. Pierre] might come back. You never know. I’ve just got to make sure I’m in the position that whenever he does come back, I’ll be able to fight him.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:28:49).