Johnny Hendricks Will KO GSP
Here is my full analysis of the upcoming Hendricks-GSP title fight and how I believe it will go down:
In approaching this fight, you have to consider GSP's gameplan in every title defense. Like Bill Belicheck in the NFL, GSP is a highly cerebral strategist whose only concern is winning, and he does this by taking away his opponent's biggest strength while attacking his biggest weakness. This sounds obvious enough, but you'd be surprised how often fighters and athletes compete with awful gameplans and low fight IQ.
In recent history, GSP has adopted this gameplan effectively because he is strong in all facets of MMA: He is a black belt karate striker with extensive boxing training from Freddie Roach, he has a black belt in BJJ, and he is arguably the best wrestler in MMA. So, if his opponent's strength is wrestling then he will take that away by using his great wrestling to keep the fight standing and exposing his opponent's weakness on the feet. We saw this strategy against Jake Shields, when GSP took away Shields's strength as a grappler by standing and striking Shields against his weakness. Conversely, against a fighter whose strength is striking and weakness is wrestling, GSP will take away the strength and attack the weakness simultaneously by taking the opponent down in every round and keeping the fight on the mat. We saw this strategy employed against Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves.
GSP has had success in every defense because he is strong in every aspect of MMA, whereas his opponents have typically been EITHER strong grapplers OR strong strikers. Thus, he has been able to rinse and repeat his gameplans with relative ease and predictability. Because GSP has monstrous MMA wrestling, he's been able to even take down other wrestlers like Josh Koscheck.
With Hendricks, though, GSP will face the best MMA and pure wrestler he has ever faced. Hendricks was an incredible undefeated champion in college who was even better than Koscheck, and as we saw against Condit yesterday he can take people down pretty easily when he feels like it. Also, I've never seen anybody take him down and I can't imagine anybody doing it, including GSP. Because of this incredible wrestling, Hendricks will be able to keep the fight standing against GSP.
Thus, the battle will come down to a striking match between Hendricks and GSP. While GSP has better technical striking, Hendricks undoubtedly has more power in his fists. Showing the ability to KO anybody, Hendricks has the ability to KO GSP, who has an average chin since he has been rocked by Carlos Condit and even finished by little Matt Serra.
The final questions are: Can Hendricks actually land his bombs, and does he have the stamina to last 5 rounds? To the first question, I think he can land his power lefts against GSP by pressuring him. GSP is not a counter-striker like Anderson Silva, and he doesnt respond to pressure well. Normally, GSP goes in for a double-leg takedown when pressured, but this is not an option against a wrestling stalwart like Hendricks. So, Hendricks can back GSP up, defend his takedown attempts, and land his power left with pressure. While he doesnt have the stamina for five rounds, I don't think it will matter because Hendricks will rock and finish GSP within the first 3.
The only other way I can see this fight developing is for GSP to be well prepared for Hendricks's left hand and outpoint him on the feet for a five round decision via superior endurance and technique. But, ultimately I see HEndricks taking the belt with a KO in the first 3 rounds. What do you all think?