After crushing Martin Kampmann with a straight left for the ages in the UFC 154 co-main event this past Saturday night (Nov. 17, 2012) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Johny Hendricks was on cloud nine.
The former two-time national champion wrestler at Oklahoma State University (OSU) has taken the mixed martial arts (MMA) world by storm in the past 11 months, knocking out former number two welterweight Jon Fitch in 12 seconds, winning a decision against former title challenger Josh Koscheck and then crushing Kampmann in just 46 seconds.
All that's left is the long waiting period while the promotion decides whether GSP fights Hendricks in a title defense or matches up against middleweight champ Anderson Silva in a super-fight, but "Big Rig" has done everything in his power to sway their decision towards him.
The Team Takedown fighter spoke with MMAmania.com last night during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission about his incredible performance in Montreal, where his power comes from and what he plans on doing next in part one of this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned in one of your post-fight interviews that you always wanted to fight a friend. Where did that mindset come from? I know you'd trained with Martin Kampmann before and you consider him a friend.
Johny Hendricks: From wrestling. Everyone is always like, "Man, I don't want to fight a training partner. I don't want to do this, I don't want to do that." To me, I've always been excited to do something like that because who else could beat you than someone who knows you, seen you train, seen you prepare for a fight? That's the best person that can beat you in my mind and when I prepared for this fight, I got really excited for it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Something else that I thought was interesting was you mentioned that you had just started hitting the combo which ended the fight about a week ago in training and that it "came to you in a dream." Can you elaborate on that? I've got to hear about this dream or whatever it was that happened.
Johny Hendricks: Sometimes I'll dream about or think about something that I want to do and ultimately I'll be able to go out there and accomplish it. I don't know if it'll be a good combination or a good move in general but what I'll do is I'll go ou tthere and I'll try it. Everyone does the hook cross, but it was difficult for me to lead with the hook and as soon as I had it, I had a dream about it and I thought, "You know what? Let's see if it would work." Then all of a sudden I figured out how to create the angle to make it work and the next thing I know it was working constantly. I was able to hit it 10 times in a row without being disturbed because whenever you get hit by a right-hander, you're not really thinking about firing that right cross back because if a hook lands, that could be a devastating punch as well. I used it as a set-up and now I can get to the point where I can use that to finish people.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With three fights that you've finished inside the first minute, you might have set a record last night. I can't think of any other fighter in UFC history that has knocked three guys out cold in the first minute. Not Anderson Silva, nobody. How does that make you feel knowing you're in uncharted territory?
Johny Hendricks: It's awesome. It's pretty sweet. God's blessed me with a lot of things and power in my left hand is it. For some reason also, it's weird, whenever it hits, I like seeing the aftermath. I like seeing their faces and their eyes roll back. For some reason that brings me a lot of joy. I don't know why, but it does.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When did you first discover that your left hand was so powerful? Was it once you'd started fighting or training or was there a specific moment where you hit something and somebody said, "Holy crap that really hurts?"
Johny Hendricks: Yeah, it was when I fought Amir Sadollah. That's when I started realizing it. I got to a point where I started looking for it. I was always looking for it after that fight and it really hindered me. Then as soon as I said, "Alright, I'll quit looking for it and if it happens, it happens," that's when my striking really evolved because now I'm not sitting here thinking about it, I'm just playing off these emotions.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In the post-fight celebration, you were doing the belt dance, the discount double check and you made it absolutely certain your intentions of wanting to get a title shot. Was that part of the plan heading in, that no matter what, as long as you had a good performance, you'd be really aggressive in asking for that shot?
Johny Hendricks: Oh yeah. I knew as long as I won that fight that I would be asking for that title shot. That's what I planned on. That's what I was dreaming of every day, trying to get a title shot. After that fight when it happened, I was like, "Man I can't wait!" Right after it happened I was like, "Now I need to start preparing for a title shot.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Somebody else that's been campaigning for a shot at Georges St. Pierre has been Anderson Silva. Does it bother you at all that the UFC seems to be forcing this fight despite the fans not really asking for it? They had Anderson cageside, they kept showing him on camera during the title fight. What did you think about that?
Johny Hendricks: Here's the thing. I did what I needed to do to prepare myself for a shot. If they go that way, then that sucks, but I'm not gonna fight until I get a title shot. I told my manager that the other night and last night, too. I want to fight GSP and I think I've earned the shot. I've fought all the tough guys in the division and the only thing left is to fight GSP. The thing is, I have the tools, I just haven't shown all my tools because I haven't had to, but I think I have all the tools to win that fight.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Johny Hendricks later tonight where "Big Rig" talks about backstage at UFC 154, his constant belief in himself and what would happen to Georges St. Pierre if he connects with his left hand.