Many champions fall from grace, but Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks (18-7) has fallen the furthest.
A bit less than five years ago, he was the welterweight champion after winning an incredible war against Robbie Lawler. Before that, he lost to Georges St. Pierre by a razor-thin decision that had more to do with the 10 point scoring system than anything. He was a beastly wrestler who had such power in his hands that he could afford to live as a striker.
Then the wheels really came off. PED accusations hounded Hendricks since the GSP fight and his recent slide has done nothing to soothe them. He kept missing weight and had to move up to middleweight where he missed weight again. He hasn’t finished a fight since Martin Kampmann five years ago. He moves like he’s wading upstream against a river in his mind and he can’t reliably take people down at middleweight. His last win was against Hector Lombard who is suffering an equally horrific skid.
Hendricks was effective because of two overwhelmingly powerful weapons: his left hand and physical strength. At middleweight, Hendricks doesn’t seem to have either. It’s rare to spend an entire section of a prediction focusing on the negative, but Hendricks doesn’t really have a positive anymore.
Few fighters have their nickname and fighting style match up as well as Paulo “The Eraser” Borrachinha; the dude fights like he’s trying to wipe his opponent from existence.
His strategy is simple and replicated thousands of times over: walk forward and swing hard.
But Borrachinha has wrinkles in his game that make this strategy effective. His punches are wide but not winging, meaning his hooks circumvent many guards. He’ll mix uppercuts and hooks in the same combination so he’s guaranteed at least one hit. He’ll throw in front kicks and body kicks to put opponents on the cage and then keep them there. His ground and pound is nasty, so any knockdown can prove lethal.
This is all aside from the fact that Borrachinha hits like a truck.
His grappling is mostly defensive and that suits a fighter like him just fine. “Brawl and Sprawl” has produced some of the greatest fighters in history and with an undefeated record, it’s hard to argue that it’s not working for Borrachinha.
This seems like a fight set up to push Borrachinha as a rising star and rid the UFC of Hendricks in one swoop. Borrachinha has a size, reach, speed and power advantage. Hendricks’s chin is declining so he won’t survive more than a few clean shots from Borrachinha.
Borrachinha via TKO
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