Lets start off with the striking game. Hendricks’s primary striking weapons are first and foremost his overhand left (he’s a southpaw), and second to that, his left uppercut. He likes to throw both of these punches while rushing straight forward and ducking his head to avoid counterpunches. He rarely throws jabs or any types of feints, and he’s not a very effective kicker either. If he lands his overhand left on GSP, we could very well have a new welterweight champion on November 16th. However, GSP isn’t exactly the type of fighter who will stay still and wait to get hit by a monstrous overhand left.
For the most part, The French-Canadian does an excellent job of eluding big loopy power-shots. Although he may not have the knockout power that Hendricks has displayed, GSP is an extremely versatile stand-up fighter, he throws mostly straight, accurate punches (which also help set up his takedowns), and very hard kicks (like when he knocked out Matt Hughes by a perfectly timed high kick in their second bout). His favorite and most utilized strike is without a doubt his jab. He doesn’t just use it as a feint, but also does considerable damage with it. His long reach, footwork, and impeccable sense of timing have helped him make his jabs arguably the best in MMA. He does a great job of creating angles with his jab through his footwork; he’s constantly circling and shuffling while peppering his opponent with jabs straight through his opponent’s guard.
Hendricks on the other hand tends to be very heavy-footed and moves only in two directions: forward and backward. This may leave him very vulnerable to GSP’s crisp, accurate and more technical style of striking. GSP could use his footwork to stay out of Hendricks’s range while picking him apart with his jabs and straight.
The advantage in knockout ability goes to Hendricks, but his advantage is also his disadvantage. Hendricks only moves straight forward and backward, and when he throws his wild haymakers, he leaves himself exposed to be countered and taken down. In contrast, GSP’s striking, although not as powerful, is swift, crisp, efficient and calculating. By utilizing good footwork and feints, GSP can easily outstrike the “Bigg Rigg.” But if he makes one mistake, that’s all it will take for him to lose his title to a power puncher like Hendricks.
Moving on to grappling, Hendricks is an accomplished amateur wrestler. And GSP, although he never did any amateur wrestling, has proven to the world countless times that he can outwrestle anyone in a MMA fight, even fighters with strong wrestling backgrounds such as: Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Jake Shields. Both GSP and Hendricks utilize the double-leg more than any other take down. But they do it in very different ways.
Much like the way he out-jabs his opponents, GSP uses timing and footwork to set up his double leg as well. He constantly circles and shuffles while peppering his opponent with his jab and patiently waits for them to attack so he can take advantage of any openings they provide. Also, sometimes he shoots his double from far out and times it based on his opponent’s footwork. Hendricks’s setup is very different. He often shoots his double without a setup, but uses his power to drive them to the other side of the octagon so he can press them up against the fence. This may prove difficult to do against GSP, who is a very large and powerful welterweight, and is also good at creating the distance that he wants in his fights. GSP is much quicker and could beat him to launch in the takedown game.
Another weapon that GSP has in his takedown arsenal are his throws. Training in judo and Greco-Roman wrestling, GSP certainly has the advantage in the clinch. He completely manhandled Matt Hughes in their second bout by tossing him to the ground multiple times until eventually submitting him with an armbar. To avoid getting taken down, Hendricks should best avoid clinching with the champion.
As far as the submission aspect of the grappling game is concerned, GSP has a clear advantage. GSP has five submission wins compared to Hendricks’s one, and it’s very important to consider that GSP has rolled on the ground with some very skilled submission fighters in his MMA career: Matt Hughes, Jason Miller, Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn, Matt Serra, Jake Shields and Nick Diaz. Although Hendricks has never been submitted, he hasn’t displayed an deadly submission skills either. It’s safe to say that being submitted by Hendricks is the least of GSP’s worries.
This is going to be an uphill battle for Hendricks because the only advantage he has in this fight is his knockout power. GSP beats him in a fairly wide margin in every other aspect of the fight game, and that’s including Hendricks’s base: wrestling. If Hendricks wants to win, he needs to either land his overhand left, or his left uppercut, because GSP is going to pick him apart in everything else.