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UFC 158:

No doubt about it’: Johny Hendricks is next for Georges St. Pierre

Hendricks beats Condit in memorable co-main event battle

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Associated Press

Johny Hendricks pins Carlos Condit during their UFC 158 welterweight mixed martial arts match in Montreal, Saturday, March 16, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)

St. Pierre-Diaz

Georges St-Pierre from Canada, left, has his arm raised by an official after defeating Nick Diaz from the United States in their UFC 158 mixed martial arts title fight in Montreal, Saturday, March 16, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes) Launch slideshow »

UFC 158

Johny Hendricks from the United States, right, celebrates following his UFC 158 welterweight fight with Carlos Condit, left, also from the United States in Montreal, Saturday, March 16, 2013.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes) Launch slideshow »

The guards at the gate of the palace where Nick Diaz probably thinks the “pampered” Georges St. Pierre resides need not be alerted.

Johny Hendricks threatened showing up at St. Pierre’s house to fight him after beating Carlos Condit by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in the co-main event of UFC 158, but those drastic lengths aren’t necessary.

Hendricks officially gets the next shot at St. Pierre, who scored a unanimous-decision victory (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) of his own against rival Nick Diaz Saturday night.

“He’s the No. 1 contender,” UFC President Dana White said of Hendricks. “Done, no doubt about it.”

With those words at the post-fight press conference, Hendricks’ face beamed even more than it did an hour earlier when octagon announcer Bruce Buffer read the scores of his co-main event bout. His grizzly beard couldn’t hide the grin that stretched from one ear to the other.

It’s a long time coming for Hendricks, who arguably had to go on the greatest non-championship run in UFC history to secure the fight he wanted. The victory over Condit marked Hendricks’ sixth straight, including three wins over former top welterweight contenders.

“I’m just excited,” gushed Hendricks. “I finally got to the top. This is what it’s all about — getting to the top and fighting the best.”

White couldn’t deny Hendricks after another win, especially in a performance like this one. White said the bout embodied all that was special in mixed martial arts. It’s an early favorite to win Fight of the Year honors.

The first two rounds were close with both Hendricks and Condit rocking each other. Condit hurt Hendricks multiple times in the third round, but couldn’t thwart repeated takedown attempts.

Getting the fight to the ground with his wrestling proved a safe haven for Hendricks. Even St. Pierre, who was preparing for his bout against Diaz, couldn’t help but hear the roar of the crowd and catch a glimpse of the fight on the television in his dressing room.

“It was back-and-forth, seemed like a very good fight,” St. Pierre said. “I knew he won the fight, and I think he deserves a title fight right now. He earned it.”

White wouldn’t set a timetable on when St. Pierre vs. Hendricks could take place. St. Pierre was off to an “exotic” vacation for a week where he wouldn’t think at all about fighting.

One potential holdup could be an injury Hendricks suffered against Condit. Hendricks said he might have broken his right hand in the first round, but was quick to add that “nothing” would hold him back.

He’d train through the pain to get the fight against St. Pierre. Hendricks was already playing the bout through his head after UFC 158.

“I believe I’ve got better wrestling than him,” Hendricks said. “I also hit harder than him. That’s a proven fact. I’m just excited for the opportunity. Hopefully, I can finish him. That’s my goal.”

As a two-time national champion wrestler in college at Oklahoma State with knockout power, Hendricks appears to be the toughest stylistic matchup for St. Pierre at welterweight.

Condit, who’s lost to St. Pierre and Hendricks back-to-back, can see fight playing out in close fashion.

“Johny, obviously, has really good wrestling as does Georges,” Condit said. “Their striking style is very different. Georges is very polished, crisp. Johny has a lot of power. He’s more of a brawler. It’s an interesting matchup. I’m not going to pick tonight. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Hendricks was also relieved he wouldn’t have to call out St. Pierre anymore. Talking trash was never in his nature, but Hendricks felt like he had to say something after Diaz leapfrogged him for a championship bout at UFC 158.

That’s where the comment about fighting St. Pierre on his front porch came from.

“I don’t want to sit there and badmouth somebody,” Hendricks said. “I don’t want to hate somebody to fight them. This is my job.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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