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UFC FN 82: Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson – Who You Like?

Johny Hendricks

UFC Fight Night 82 will go down tomorrow, and depending on how badly you wanted to see Fabricio Werdum – Cain Velasquez II, maybe your heart hasn’t recovered enough to watch?

While Saturday’s card isn’t an all-star stacked line-up, thus, the decision to yank it off pay-per-view, there are several interesting bouts scheduled. The new headliner will feature former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks taking on Stephen Thompson, in what is a pivotal bout for both. If either one hopes to lock up a shot at the welterweight title in 2016, then a win on Saturday is likely a must.

So who is going to win the scrap? That’s a good question.

Johny Hendricks

Hendricks (17-3) has some baggage heading into this fight, but by the looks of him, he’s turned up for it having having lost the physical baggage…As everyone under the MMA sun knows, Hendricks was forced to drop out of a scheduled bout with Tyron Woodley last October, after encountering serious complications while cutting weight.

The critics piled on Hendricks for the incident, and Dana White was so upset, at the time, he said “Bigg Rigg’s” run at 170 might be done. But, it sounds and looks like Hendricks has put in a ton of work to get himself back into the title shot mix.

In fact, if you believe everything Hendricks has been saying leading up to the fight, we’re in store for a rededicated, newly improved fighter, who has recharged his booming left hand. In other words, Hendricks has claimed we’re going to be seeing dudes hitting the deck in Jon Fitch / Martin Kampmann like fashion once again.

Stephen Thompson

Leading up to UFC FN 82, Thompson (11-1) is in the very different position than Hendricks, as he isn’t trying to reclaim the top dog spot. “Wonderboy”, rather, is trying to reach it.

The vaunted striker has won five straight fights, and is coming off arguably his best win to date, when he KO’d Jake Ellenberger last July. The only man who has defeated Thompson thus far is the aforementioned Mr. Brown, and that was back in 2012. Since then, Thompson has done nothing but impress and has worked his way into the top ten rankings (he’s #8, Hendricks is #2).

Who You Like?

The consensus seems to be that in order for Hendricks to win this fight, the powerful wrestler is going to have to take Thompson down, at least a couple of times. In other words, if his takedown attempts are completely snuffed, then Thompson’s striking game will rule the day.

Hendricks doesn’t necessarily need to keep Thompson on the mat, and grind out a decision, but he’ll need to score somes TDs to keep “Wonderboy’s” kicking game in check. Further, if “Bigg Rigg” can get Thompson worried about TDs, then his cracking left hand could become a key player.

Will this happen though? According to Fight Metric, Mr. Thompson’s takedown defense is not too shabby. The ridiculously agile striker has defended 78% of takedowns. Hendricks TD success rate is 48%.

Now, has Thompson fought someone with the wrestling pedigree of Hendricks in the past? No. And this is why Hendricks should leave Vegas with a decision win on Saturday. If you have some extra cash lying around though, and feel like putting some money down on a dog, Thompson is worth a look.

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