Morning Report: Johny Hendricks feels Robbie Lawler served as his first title defense and that he's already fought Rory MacDonald by having faced Georges St-Pierre

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks is one step ahead of the game. After dropping a controversial decision to then champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167 in November, Hendricks scored a five-round decision victory over Robbie Lawler to take St-Pierre's forfeited title at UFC 171 March. Yet to make his first defense as champion, Hendricks believes he's already taken care of that.

"There's a sense of me that I sort of felt like Robbie Lawler was my title defense because of the Georges St-Pierre fight," Hendricks told MMA Fight Corner. "That's the way I'm looking at it. It's not technically my title defense but I've got the same mindset."

Now cleared to start training with his surgically repaired bicep, Hendricks is curious to see how he'd fare against Lawler with full use of his right arm. He'll get his chance if Lawler makes it past Matt Brown later this month at UFC on FOX 12 in San Jose.

"Don't get me wrong, I'll throw with whoever's the No. 1 contender," said Hendricks. "I'll fight them. I'm not going to run away from that, but there's a part of me that wants to see how I can do against Robbie Lawler, healthy. Then again, there's the part of me that wants to sort of train for Matt Brown or Rory MacDonald or whoever else is out there."

As for MacDonald, Hendricks says he feels as if he's already beaten the better version of the same fighter.

"I think I have faced [MacDonald]," said Hendricks. "It was [Georges St-Pierre]. It is GSP. The only difference is [MacDonald] has been able to control people a little bit differently than GSP has. He uses his jab by doing that. If you watch the GSP fights, really good strikers, really explosive guys, they try to use that jab to do that. What they don't understand is that they're not going to hit me with that jab. They're not going to keep me at bay with that jab."

Should St-Pierre ever return to the division he ruled for seven years, Hendricks believes the former champion will need an entirely different strategy to beat him again.

"I've heard that GSP's been watching my fights. Re-watching stuff because he's going to have to put himself in more danger to hurt me, to mess up my game. That puts him in trouble. He's been able to get away with so much because he's been able to out-wrestle people. He can't out-wrestle me. He can't out-strength me. No matter how much weight he puts on. I think he's at 201 pounds right now. They said he's beefing up because he felt weak against me. He's going to feel weak, even if he's at 201. If Rory MacDonald wants to get in there I'll fight him, too."

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

'It's a tough one.' Dana White talks about making the decision for UFC and FOX to cut ties with Chael Sonnen.

Last run. Dana White says he will push for B.J. Penn to retire if he loses to Frankie Edgar at the TUF 19 Finale.

'It's funny.' Anthony Pettis is amused by Benson Henderson calling to fight for an interim UFC lightweight strap. "Ben is one of the best lightweights in the world. I'm just better. He won a belt in WEC. I took that away from him. He won the belt in UFC. I took that away from him."

Tentative alliance. Cris Cyborg will support Alexis Davis against Ronda Rousey at UFC 175'I want to shut Ronda up but I want Alexis to do a good job.'

The contender. Cat Zingano explains her own strategy for beating Rousey. 'You also have to get reckless, overwhelm and take her mind off her game plan. For me, that's the best strategy-make her defend the whole time, so she's not on the offensive.'

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MEDIA STEW

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UFC Embedded episode 1. Guess my favorite part.

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Ed Soares talks Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz.

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Cris Cyborg talks Rousey and moving down to 135lbs.

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TTTHS.

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Alexis Davis talks to the media about not talking to the media.

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Smart move to put out a video like this the day Team USA plays?

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Long watches.

The Ross Report with Ronda Rousey.

...

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TWEETS

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Too bad.

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Congrats.

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Get well soon.

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Team Chael.

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On weight.

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To our friends up north.

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Cousins, maybe.

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Get it together.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Jul. 1 2014)

Matt Dwyer vs. Alex Garcia at UFC 176

Leo Kuntz out, Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Jerrod Sanders at UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller

Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki at UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller

cancelled Ilir Latifi vs. Tom Lawlor at UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via skooly.

Requiem for a Gangster

Memories of a time long gone.

You didn't have to like him or even respect him to still feel the twinge of pathos at seeing one man's personal reputation and professional career go up in all-consuming flames. That the flames were sparked by his own hands will no doubt delight some and depress others. Yet few can ignore the impact Chael Sonnen had on the sport.

Chael was a rare force in MMA and in MMA media. At times brash, outrageous, and snortingly funny, he was also capable of moments of honesty, objectivity, and candid self-reflection. That he could transition seamlessly from flamboyant showman to objective commentator is a testament to his skills in performance art. That he was mentioned as a possible successor to Dana White underscores the impact he made.

His two fights against Anderson Silva - from the long trash-talking buildup to the first fight, to the stunning dominance he displayed over Silva for most of the fight, to his epic submission loss in the last two minutes - will go down in MMA history as some of the craziest shit we've ever born witness to.

...

Check out the rest of the post here.

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Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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