The co-main event of UFC 192 is a matchup between former UFC Welterweight Champion Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks and Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley. Both fighters are coming off of significant wins over top contenders and will likely earn the next crack at the welterweight title with a win on Saturday night. Johny Hendricks (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC, -280 favorite) The 32-year old Hendricks is on a mission to reclaim the UFC Welterweight Championship, which is a title he feels he never should have lost. “Bigg Rigg” lost the title to Robbie Lawler in December of 2014 by a highly controversial split decision. Since losing his belt, Hendricks defeated Matt Brown by decision in March and will likely earn another crack at the title with a win over Woodley. The Texas native is a decorated collegiate wrestler that won consecutive national titles at Oklahoma State University in 2005 and 2006. He has strong single and double-leg takedowns, and is especially hard to shake off once he gets a hold of his opponent’s legs or torso. Hendricks is not much of a jiu jitsu player, as he is not a slick guard passer or an offensive submission threat. Striking is the area where Hendricks has improved the most over the last few years. He puts combinations together well, as he works a stiff jab and a powerful straight left hand from a southpaw stance. Additionally, he has strong inside leg kicks that he often ends combinations with. Hendricks has been known for his knockout power in his left hand, but he has not won by knockout since 2012. The former champ’s biggest issue has been his weight, as he has struggled to make the welterweight limit on several occasions. However, all indications point to him being in excellent shape for this camp. Tyron Woodley (15-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC, +240 underdog) Like Hendricks, Woodley is a former Division 1 All-American wrestler that made a successful transition to mixed martial arts. He is one of the more physically gifted and athletic fighters in the welterweight division. His offensive wrestling is top notch but he does not use it as much as one would think. However, Woodley’s defensive wrestling is some of the best in the sport, which is usually an important aspect of his game plans. When he does land takedowns he is not an advanced jiu jitsu player, though he has been working on that part of his game recently. Woodley has become known for his tremendous knockout power, especially in his right hand. He is very quick with his right hand particularly early in the fight. Three of his five UFC victories have ended via knockout, so that is something Hendricks will have to be very cautious of, especially in the first round or two. The former Missouri standout’s main problems have been his conditioning and pace. He does not throw a lot of volume and he tends to slow down considerably after the first two rounds. Woodley has been working on improving his conditioning, but it is still a liability. Thoughts I thought this fight favored Hendricks from the moment the fight was announced. Their wrestling will likely cancel each other out and Hendricks is the better and much more active striker. He puts his combinations together much better, while Woodley’s opponents really only have to worry about his big right hand. I believe Woodley has to win by knockout in order to win this matchup, which is an unlikely outcome considering Hendricks has shown a strong chin thus far in his career and has never been knocked out. However, if anyone is capable of knocking Hendricks out, it is Woodley. Still, I have to heavily favor Hendricks to win this fight based on his superior output, striking technique, and gas tank. The Prediction: Johny Hendricks defeats Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision
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