Johny Hendricks was a four-time All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University. He won two national titles.
If he gets the next shot at the UFC welterweight championship, though, he’ll be putting that resume up against an opponent who many consider to be the best wrestler in MMA: Georges St. Pierre.
“I believe Johny Hendricks is a better wrestler in the cage, but I believe GSP is a more accomplished wrestler in the cage,” Steven Wright, one of Hendricks’ coaches at Team Takedown, told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show.
Wright pointed out that even though St. Pierre beat Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, both were able to take the top position on the ground against him.
“I think Johny is a better mixed martial arts wrestler than those two gentlemen,” Wright said. “People can forget that Johny’s got  fights in this. Most of his career was in the UFC now. He’s only known for going against the highest-level guys and having to use his wrestling there. I think that [a matchup against St. Pierre] will be an opportunity for him to prove to the world … that he can wrestle with the best guys and I think he’s going to prove to be the best wrestler when they meet.”
UFC President Dana White has said he expects Hendricks to get the next crack at St. Pierre. The fight will be a long time coming for Hendricks and his camp.
“It’s the fight I’ve wanted for a while because I feel it’s a fight that we can win,” Wright said. “… We’re excited about that opportunity. As far as what we bring game plan-wise, with Johny, as long as he’s standing in front of a guy, I like his chances. Of course with GSP, you’ve got to look for the jab. You’ve got to look for the takedown, and he knows how to get his hand raised. You can’t credit him enough for what he’s done in the sport. Really he was champion when Johny started. That just shows the longevity of this guy.”
Team Takedown will bring in some boxers to work Hendricks against the jab and some long sparring partners to mimic St. Pierre’s reach advantage. Ultimately, though, Wright isn’t worried about Hendricks’ ability to get inside on St. Pierre.
“I really believe that Johny will do a good job of closing the distance and fighting GSP like he fights everybody else,” Wright said. “Everyone’s longer than us, everyone’s taller than us, but we’ve found a way to win.”
With St. Pierre, Wright doesn’t expect any surprises. Hendricks will know what to expect, and when they finally do fight, it will be a matter of stopping the champion’s wrestling and getting inside his jab.
“I think that’s why people are going to be excited about this fight,” Wright said. “I think it will be the first fight where people will go into it and they’ll say, ‘Man, can GSP really lay on this guy? Can he really keep this guy down?’ I think that’s part of the excitement, and then of course the other excitement is left hand versus left jab. I think that will be a lot of fun for the fans to watch.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 2:38:36).