It may seem like Johny Hendricks has been the UFC welterweight champ for quite a while, but in fact, he’ll be defending the title for the first time at UFC 181 on Saturday.
Of course, Hendricks hasn’t fought since he decisioned Robbie Lawler in March, due to bicep surgery he underwent after the bout. Lawler, on the other hand, has gone on to record two more wins and lock up a rematch with the champ.
As a result, some observers believe the second battle will be different than their UFC 171 encounter, and Hendricks’ coach, Marc Laimon, is one of them.
Laimon recently appeared on “The MMA Hour” to talk about the upcoming bout, and while the grappling coach said Hendricks is more than ready, he acknowledged just how dangerous Lawler is.
While talking about how the rematch could unfold, here is some of what Laimon had to say (quotes via MMA Fighting.com):
“Every fight’s different. The slate’s wiped clean. We know what happened,” Laimon said.
“Johny’s had to wrestle the same guys over and over again in his college career. I think that kinda might benefit Johny a little bit because Johny’s fight IQ is incredibly high and his ability to adapt and adjust on the fly and figure out what his opponent is doing and how to beat them is really second to none. He’s very, very skilled at understanding his body an what his body has to do to beat his opponents.”
That’s an interesting point, in terms of how Hendricks has been repeatedly put into situations where he’s had to face an opponent, evaluate what they’re doing, and make the necessary adjustment. That is yet another, big plus that comes with having an extensive, wrestling background.
Now, of course, Lawler and the renowned coaches at American Top Team have almost certainly, studied Hendricks repeatedly, and it will be interesting to see how feared slugger approaches the champ.
Game planning aside, perhaps the most compelling storyline heading into the bout, is to see how Hendricks looks, since he’s presumably 100% (or close to it). The champion said he injured his bicep approximately a week out from his first fight with Lawler, and that his explosiveness was diminished as a result.
UFC 181 will be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.