GSP: Would his wrestling be too much for Johny Hendricks?

I wrote earlier this week that Johny Hendricks absolutely deserves the next title shot against Georges St. Pierre after dismantling Martin Kampmann at UFC 154.

Hendricks is a dangerous opponent for GSP as he has shown that he has absolute dynamite in his hands. That’s a given, but the other thing many fans and pundits have talked about is the wrestling of Hendricks. There are many people out there that believe Hendricks would be able to defend the takedown attempts with ease and simply keep the fight standing while landing a power punch to knock GSP out. However, GSP is the best wrestler in MMA bar none and Iwant to take a look at some numbers that back that statement up.

Hendricks was four time All-American and two time national champion college wrestler at Oklahoma State University. He’s one of the more decorated college wrestlers to make the transition over the MMA. He was an elite college wrestler.

Is his wrestling in MMA at an elite level?

No. Not it’s not.

Hendricks has been successful on only 44% of his takedowns attempts while defending takedown attempts against him at a 63% clip. Here’s a list of guys that have taken Hendricks down more than once when fighting him in MMA:

  • Justin Haskins
  • Alex Serdyukov
  • Charlie Brenneman
  • Rick Story

Ricardo Funch, Mike Pierce, and Josh Koscheck also took him down in their fights with him. However, Hendricks seems to think that GSP will not be able to take him down if and when they fight:

 “No. No, I don’t. I’ve wrestled all my life and if I really wanted to I could go into a fight and take him down. I just haven’t had the thrill of wanting to take somebody down. For some reason, just hitting someone in the face is a lot more exciting to me, and also to the crowd.”

That statement kind of sounds like Josh Koscheck prior to his bout with GSP at UFC 74. Georges St. Pierre has been successful on 78% of his takedown attempts while defending takedowns against him at a 86% clip.

The following comparison isn’t apples to apples because both fighters have fought different opponents. However, Thiago Alves has defended 63% of the takedown attempts against him. This percentage is INCLUDES the fight where GSP took him down 10 times out of 12 attempts.

Alves and Hendricks have historically defended takedowns against them at the same rate.

I’m not here to argue who would win between GSP and Hendricks. I’ll break that fight down when the time comes. However, just looking at these stats and the eyeball test of their fights, I’d have to believe that GSP could take Hendricks down much easier than anybody realizes. GSP has impeccable timing and his striking is good enough to keep his opponents honest when trying to defend his takedown attempts. Also, Hendricks is a fairly one dimensional when it comes to striking, usually relying on punches for the majority of his attacks. The less GSP has to worry about standing, the easier the takedown becomes for him.

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