All-American making UFC debut

NEIL DAVIDSON

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Two-time NCAA wrestling champion. Four-time all-American. He likes to hit people -- and doesn't mind getting hit back.

Johny Hendricks seems tailor-made for mixed martial arts.

So far so good for the 25-year-old welterweight for Ada, Okla. Hendricks is 5-0 as he makes his UFC debut tonight against Amir Sadollah at UFC 101.

Hendricks is a graduate of World Extreme Cagefighting, earning two wins there before the organization decided to focus on the lower weight classes. So, some two years after taking up the sport, Hendricks finds himself at its highest level.

Hendricks made his mark as a wrestler at Oklahoma State, a Mecca for the mat. He won the national championship as a junior and sophomore while finishing fifth as a freshman and second as a senior. He was talented and knew it.

"Oh yeah, everybody hated me," he recalled happily. "One, it was because I hardly ever lost, and two is the way I acted out there whenever I wrestled. It's not all about just beating the guy to me. It's about mentally and physically beating the guy.

"If I mentally beat up a guy and it might be a 3-2 match, but I mentally beat him up and physically beat him up, he's not going to want to wrestle me as hard next time -- and that's what I tried to do is make my life easier, so that way, my next match I was already a step up above him."

Hendricks finished wrestling collegiately at 165 lb., cutting down from 195. He walks around at 205 these days, shrinking his body to 170 for weigh-ins to fight at welterweight.

Hendricks left Oklahoma for Nevada along with fellow collegiate wrestling stars Shane Roller, now 2-1 in the WEC, and Jake Rosholt, who lost his UFC debut to a tough opponent in Dan Miller in February.

"I thought I could be good at it, I knew I had the mentality for it," Hendricks said of MMA.


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