Johny Hendricks: ‘I cleared out the welterweight division for other people to move forward'

Johny Hendricks will face Martin Kampmann at UFC 154. Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com

Perhaps, no division in mixed martial arts (MMA) is as clustered and crowded as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight class.

Georges St. Pierre currently sits atop the mountain as the reigning champion while Carlos Condit holds the division's interim title and is expected to meet ‘Rush" at UFC 154 on Nov. 17, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to unify the belts once and for all.

Aside from the two champions, the 170-pound division has contenders lining up and eager for their chance to vie for gold with Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks currently the next two candidates who will also (presumably) lock horns at UFC 154 to determine who will get the next title shot.

For Hendricks, it seems that every time he gets closer to a championship fight, another obstacle is put in front of him. It hasn't seemed to matter in the past, as "Big Rigg" has overcome those hurdles and continued to chug along inch by inch.

After defeating Josh Koscheck at UFC on Fox 3: 'Diaz vs. Miller' on May 5, 2012, it was widely believed his next fight would be for the title. He even stated he would sit on the sideline and wait patiently for his turn. Martin Kampmann, however, threw a monkey wrench into those plans when he defeated top contender Jake Ellenberger via knockout at The Ultimate Fighter Finale back on June 1, 2012 to earn his third straight victory.

Now the two will duke it out in Canada to see who the rightful number one contender is, even if Hendricks feels he shouldn't be fighting a number one contender's fight.

After the jump, see what the former NCAA- Division 1 All American wrestler told BJPenn.com about his current place in the UFC's welterweight division and his thoughts on all the naysayers that call him "lucky" and have "no respect" for his punching power.

"Like I said before I want a shot at the belt. I feel like I've done enough to get that title shot. Certain circumstances have held me up from getting that. I was okay with sitting on the sidelines. Everyone was okay with saying that I could sit on the sidelines waiting for Carlos Condit or GSP. What made me mad is that Carlos Condit called out Martin Kampmann instead . I was like whoa, whoa, whoa. First off he has the belt and we get to call him out. Kampmann's not the number one contender. I just cleared out the division for a lot of other people to move forward. Condit calling out Kampmann - that would be like me telling Carlos Condit that I wanted to fight another guy. You don't get to pick and choose. You're at the top of the mountain. Everyone has to work their way to you, and I understand that Condit did get beat by Kampann like 3 or 4 years ago. Bottom line - a long time ago. Now Kampmann has to get through me. There are a lot of things going through my mind. It's just that I have to go through one more guy."

After Hendricks knocked out former number one contender Jon Fitch at UFC 140 last December, that promoted Josh Koscheck to label Hendricks "lucky." After Hendricks defeated "Kos" and made him eat his words, he says he is bothered by the fact that people do not seem to respect his power:

"It always seems like when I knock somebody out it's either called too quick or a lucky punch or whatever. I don't think people respect my power. That's the beauty of the internet. Everyone can be a weekend warrior or an internet warrior. It's easy to sit behind a keyboard and criticize. It's the right of the fans I guess. I just don't understand it sometimes. If one person hates on you they put one thread, and the next guy puts one. It gets started that way. I used to kind of pay attention to it, but not anymore."

Anyone think Hendricks can get past Kampmann and get his long-desired crack at the title? Or will "The Hitman" stake his own claim at UFC 154?

Opinions, please.

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