Ex-champ Johny Hendricks promises rebirth of fallen career at UFC Fight Night 105
HALIFAX Johny Hendricks has a pep in his step that he said has been absent for several years as he approaches Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 105 showdown with Hector Lombard.
Hendricks (17-6 MMA, 12-6 UFC), aformer UFC welterweight champion, has lost four of his past five bouts entering the contest with Lombard (34-5-1 MMA, 3-3 UFC). Outside of dropping fights, the overwhelming theme during the current skid has been Hendricks’ inability to make the 170-pound limit without doing serious damage to his body.After missing weight prior to a UFC 207 loss to Neil Magny in December, Hendricks officially pulled the plug on the welterweight division and said he will only fight at middleweight from here on out. His debut in the division comes against a former Bellator 185-pound champ in Lombard, and with significantly less weight to cut in the lead up to the fight, “Bigg Rigg” said he’s feeling better than ever.
“I have energy, I have motivation to train (and) I have the energy to train,” Hendricks told MMAjunkie. “For a while, it was all about the weight cut. Nothing else mattered but trying to make weight. I’ve been wanting to go to 185 since I heard USADA was coming on board and I knew they were taking away IVs (for rehydration). That’s what’s really been my lifeline for the longest time is really being able to bounce back from a hard weight cut. Now that you’re not able to do that, I had to change my lifestyle.”
UFC Fight Night 105 takes place at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Hendricks vs. Lombard co-headlines the FS1-televised main card following prelims on the same channel and UFC Fight Pass.Once considered the best welterweight in the world after capturing the UFC title in March 2014, Hendricks’ fall from grace has been sharp and unforgiving. He put all the blame on weight cutting, which is something he’s consistently put his body through since his time as a decorated amateur wrestler.
Although there were repeated instances of borderline making weight or missing all together, Hendricks said it was no worse than after the loss to Magny when his kidneys started to malfunction.
“My kidneys shut down for five days after my fight (with Magny),” Hendricks said. “I bounced up to 219 on Sunday, and one of my friends is a nurse and she said, ‘You need to go to the hospital, your kidneys are failing.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to wait until I can’t. I don’t want to go.’ We got it, my kidneys were failing, so we did certain things. We shut down my water intake and there’s a lot of things I had to do. By Thursday, it rebooted and by Saturday I was 199. So I lost 20 pounds doing nothing.
“Every 30 to 40 minutes, I was going to the bathroom. This was the second time it happened where my kidneys were failing my organs and all that stuff. I was going to kill myself (cutting weight). It took away from the sport, too. It was all about the weight cut. It was all about that instead of enjoying life. I didn’t get to do anything with my family and the normal stuff I get to do every day. At 185, I’m back to that. It’s back to being fun.”
Hendricks said that even prior to UFC President Dana White ruling him out of the welterweight division, he had already decided he was done at the weight. In fact, Hendricks claims he’s been wanting to move up for more than a year but was unsure if he would get the full support of the promotion and his team.
But now that Hendricks has pulled the trigger, he wished he made the move long ago.
“I didn’t know how the UFC was going to take me moving to middleweight,” Hendricks said. “Just because a fighter wants to move up a weight class sometimes it doesn’t go well, meaning the UFC doesn’t want that to happen. Sometimes they might not come back. That’s why I was so hesitant to move up. Now that I have, and I haven’t heard any complaints about it yet.
“I’ve been wanting to retire for two years because of the weight cut, because it’s only one focus eight weeks from the fight that’s weight. I start my training camp 12 weeks out. The first four, I get down to 195 then it’s all about the weight cut. It takes a toll on you after a while. I was so ready (to retire). I didn’t know if they would welcome me with open arms at 185. Now that I got the first one, if I go out there and perform the way I can and with the way my body feels right now, I’ll be back.”
Despite not having finished his weight cut or stepped foot in the octagon yet, Hendricks said he believeshe’s made the rightcareer move. He said he wasn’t bettering himself as a fighter while going through drastic weight cuts and now he’s able to focus on skill development rather than weight management.
The Texan used to be known as a frightening knockout force. That’s not so much the case anymore, though, sincehe hasn’t finished a fight since November 2012. Hendricks said that’s because he diminished himself and his power stopped translating at the same rate, but he said the pop in his hands has returned ahead of UFC Fight Night 105.
“My power has (come) back,” Hendricks said. “At welterweight, I had to pick (my shots) because I couldn’t expend that much energy because of the IV ban. I couldn’t push myself constantly, where now, I can do six rounds, seven rounds throwing hard the whole time. … In my head, that’s confidence. I can bang like I used to. I still have it.”
Hendricks may be at his best during training, but whether that spills over into the octagon remains to be seen. Hendricks admits he’s just as curious as anyone about how he will perform, but thinks Lombard is the perfect way to ease him into a new division.
“I’m just like everyone else: I can’t wait to see what I can do,” Hendricks said. “It’s going to be the rebirth of me, I can promise you that. I have the mentality back. I have the way that I want to fight. The way that I used to fight, it’s there. I just had to do a little switch up, and that little switch up was quit cutting so much weight.
“… Right now it has been the fall of me. It hasn’t been about the fighting. It’s all been about weight cut. It may take me one or two fights to get into the groove of things at 185. It may not. Who knows? The way I feel right now, I’m actually excited. I haven’t been excited for a fight in a long time. Everything is all about the fight now. It’s about Hector Lombard and nothing else.”For more on UFC Fight Night 105, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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