MONTREAL - Johny (Bigg Rigg) Hendricks is hardly fazed by Martin (Hitman) Kampmann’s durability.
The Danish kickboxer has made a career of getting rocked by heavy strikes early, only to turn the tables and pull off a stunning win. His last two bouts saw him shock Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger after falling behind.
But Hendricks is tired of hearing about Kampmann’s resilience. After all, many were making similar remarks prior to his fight with Jon Fitch, whom the two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion knocked out in only 12 seconds.
“Jon Fitch, he was durable against (Georges St. Pierre); he ate a lot of heavy shots,” Hendricks said at the UFC 154 media workouts Thursday. “All it took me was one. So if he (Kampmann) is really that durable, we’ll see.
“This is like the Jon Fitch fight. Everyone is like, ‘He’s so durable. He’s this, he’s that.’ I don’t care. Let me hit him one time. I can’t wait to put my left hand right on his chin and we’ll see where it goes from there. All I want to do is hit him one time and if he handles it, awesome. That means we’re fighting.
“If he doesn’t, guess what? It’s over. That’s my mind frame right now. I just want to hit him as hard as I can one time and see what happens.”
Hendricks gets the opportunity to land his big left hand in the co-main event of UFC 154 in Montreal Saturday. The card will be headlined by a welterweight-title unification match between St. Pierre and Carlos Condit.
Kampmann said he invites Hendricks to test his chin because all it will earn him is a sharp counter-punch.
“I can eat a good shot and I’ve proved that a lot in my fights,” Kampmann said. “I’m not planning on getting hit, but it’s a fight. I’m sure I’m going to get hit eventually, but I can eat a good shot. I’m not worried. I’ll dish it right back.
“I’m in great shape and ready to kick some a--.”
Hendricks and Kampmann are hardly strangers, as they used to train together in Las Vegas before Hendricks headed to Texas. At the time, the two had a mutually beneficial arrangement: Hendricks sharpened Kampmann’s wrestling, while Kampmann tightened up Hendricks’ striking.
Kampmann admitted Hendricks’ hands have gotten better since then, but said he’s still a bit green.
“He’s improved his striking a lot,” Kampmann said. “When he started out, he was very raw. I think he’s still a bit raw, but he’s gotten a lot slicker and a lot better. Most of all, he’s just a heavy-handed hitter.
“His wrestling was his biggest strength and I think it still is, but he’s got heavy hands to back it up and a pretty solid jiu jitsu game.”
It’s no surprise Hendricks has a similar opinion of Kampmann’s grappling game.
“I taught him how to wrestle,” Hendricks said. “I showed him how to wrestle when I first got there. So it’s decent. Is it great? No. Is it on Josh Koscheck’s level? No. Those are the kind of guys I’ve had to prepare for. Jon Fitch, is (Kampmann) on his level? No.
“So I’m not so much worried about his takedowns. Do I know they’re going to be there? Yes, I think he’s going to try and take a shot to throw me off.”
Kampmann agreed Hendricks helped his grappling game, but said “taught” is a strong word.
“No, I would say that’s a pretty big overstatement,” Kampmann said. “I could wrestle before, but he definitely showed me some good moves. He’s a good wrestler, a two-time American champion. Of course, I learned some good things from him.”
Though the winner of Saturday’s bout is deserving of a welterweight title shot, neither has been guaranteed the opportunity. Middleweight champion Anderson Silva has stated he is taking a year off and will not challenge St. Pierre if he defeats Condit, but that won’t stop UFC brass from attempting to sign the much-anticipated super-fight.
UFC president Dana White recently said he’d aim for the two to clash in May.
Hendricks, though, said he isn’t about to worry about something that is out of his hands.
“It’s not under my control,” Hendricks said. “I can’t control that.
“All I can control is a good win and then what I do after that.
“That’s all that matters.”
He added, “If I have to, I’ll say, ‘Hey, let them fight. I’ll sit back and be the first to congratulate you back at 170.’ That’s my mindset. If it’s not under my control, it’s nothing to worry about.”
MILLER TIME FOR J-LAU
Jim Miller has stepped in to replace Gray (The Bully) Maynard against Joe (J-Lau) Lauzon.
Lauzon confirmed the news via Facebook.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Lauzon wrote. “Gray Maynard is out, so I’ll be fighting Jim Miller instead.”
Lauzon and Miller will face off on the main card of UFC 155 in Las Vegas Dec. 29. The show will be headlined by a heavyweight title rematch between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez.
An exciting grappler, who’s only gone the distance once in 29 fights, Lauzon has won three of his last four. After getting knocked out by Anthony Pettis, Lauzon bounced back with a thrilling submission victory over Jamie Varner six months later.
The bout marks Miller’s first fight since suffering the only submission loss of his career against Nate Diaz in May.
CARWIN SUBMITS TO KNEE INJURY
A knee injury has forced Shane Carwin out of his scheduled fight against Roy (Big Country) Nelson.
UFC president Dana White broke the news via Twitter.
“WOW!! It never ends,” White wrote. “Carwin blew his knee out. Looking for a new opponent for Roy on the TUF Finale on FX.”
Matt Mitrione has since agreed to fill in for Carwin. Nelson and Carwin are currently serving as coaches on this season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Though filming completed months ago, the reality series has yet to finish airing. The two were scheduled to meet at the finale in Las Vegas Dec. 16.
For Carwin, this only extends his already lengthy hiatus from active competition. His last outing saw him lose a unanimous decision to Junior dos Santos at UFC 131 on June 11, 2011. Nelson got back in the win column at UFC 146 in May, delivering a vicious KO punch to Dave Herman.