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“Bigg Rigg” Wants To Make Fans Happy

Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks was a guest on “Submission Radio” recently to discuss his upcoming fight with Hector Lombard.

Hendricks will be moving up to the middleweight division, and was very candid in the interview about his future.

Check out highlights below:

On the quick turnaround and why Hendricks didn’t take a break with his family over the holidays

“We really didn’t take a break. I took a week off (after UFC 207). I had to let me body reset, and that’s one reason why I had to, that’s why I’m moving up to middleweight, because cutting weight now is hard on my body. It’s getting difficult, as you can tell, for me to hit 170. I think it’s just cause I’ve done it for so long. And after that, I told me coaches I want to go to 185. And once we made that decision, we sort of started trying to get another fight. So there’s really no break for me. And that’s really what it’s been like, is going from one fight – now I’m at 200 (pounds). I hit 196 on Friday. So the weight is not going to be an issue. And I think also with my fighting, that I haven’t really been able to fight to the best of my ability because the weight cut’s been so difficult for me. So that’s really what the last month has been like for me, is sort of talking to the wife, saying, hey I wanna move up. I know that obviously we don’t want to see 170’s anymore. I wish I could. You know, I know that I’d have to do a huge lifestyle change, but I also know that with four kids it’s sort of hard to do that. And like I said, we started training again, we started doing things just to get ready for the next event that could possibly happen.”

The moment Johny can point to when he decided to make the move to Middleweight when he was cutting down to fight Magny

“My weight was going great. My weight was going great. I was going, “dude, we’re going to make weight easy”, and then all of a sudden I hit 179 (pounds). Once I hit 179, I went up there, we did a workout that I usually normally do. Nothing crazy, but something that I’ve been losing six pounds doing. So I was like, hey, we’ll probably lose three, you know, I am getting a little lighter. And it was not Thursday, it was Wednesday, excuse me. And whenever I hit that on Wednesday, I did it and I only lost a pound. And that’s whenever things started going south for me. And that’s when I realized, you know what, there’s a time to listen to your body and there’s a time not to, and I’ve decided not to listen to it for the last year. I’ve wanted to move up to 185 for over a year now, but I still know that I could compete, I know that welterweight was a great division for me. But now it’s not. Because if I can’t go out to perform, if I’m performing at my worst and I keep losing, well what does that do for me? You know what I’m saying? That’s just a waste of camp and a waste of time and a waste of money for one, and I know I can still fight. And another thing that happens, when I went to OSU, I was wrestling these guys and they were like, “how are you losing weight, you still feel strong”? Well the next time I went up I was close to 182, and they pretty much said, “you don’t feel as strong now”. And once that happens, I’m going, okay, now it’s really time for me to listen to my body and say, hey, something’s gotta give. I either gotta retire or I gotta move up. And why not? I’ve got one fight left on my contract, why not see what happens at 185? If I go out there and I feel strong and I feel good – and here’s the thing, in most of the fights in the last year, past the first round I’m wondering if I have enough to get to the second and the third. And that’s sort of where my body’s been. It’s sucked, but it’s just like I said, something that I wanted to do. I still wanted to be a welterweight. And like I said, now that I know, now that I missed weight twice in a row, I’m done with that. And what’s worse, is I haven’t performed that well. I’ve been looking pretty bad. Even my last fight, you know, I thought I did enough to win. It didn’t go my way, so what do you do? Do you continue to beat your head against the wall? Or do you say it’s time to jump over it – and jump over it means to go to 185 and see how you do? Here’s the thing, worst case scenario, this is my last fight. If I fight and I still don’t perform like I want to, then guess what – I’m done. But if I go out there and perform like I want to and I can move like I want to and have the energy, then it’s a great choice. Not only that, but with the IV, no IV and all that kind of stuff, you’re seeing a lot more people move up in weight class because they’re not able to regain all their strength. Even though we’re weighing in earlier and they give us more time to hydrate, but it’s still not going to where it needs to go, like in our muscles and all the things to perform at our best.”

If Hendricks is serious about retiring if his move to middleweight doesn’t work out

“Really serious. Really serious. Because realistically, I thought I won that fight (against Magny). And I re-watch it and I re-watch it and I re-watch it. So in Vegas, you pressure somebody. I’ve been pressured before and I’ve lost the fight. It’s not that they outstruck me, it’s because they’re more aggressive than me, right? I lose the fight, I get that. Okay, you work on that. Then you go out there and you do this and you lose the fight. Well this fight I pretty much controlled him for what, what would you say? 13 minutes? Let’s be on the realistic side and say about 13 minutes for the fight, besides a minute of submission and 15 seconds of a submission – which neither one (was successful). It was gonna get tight, but I made a slight adjustment and it went away. And all of a sudden you lose a fight because of that? You’re going… alright. So that’s why I felt like I won even though I didn’t. So that’s why I’m looking at this going, it’s gotta be the weight, right? It’s gotta be the weight. That’s why I want to do my last one at 185. And I tried to move up to 185 before my last fight, but my coaches and everybody said, hey, let’s just try one more at 170. But like I said, here’s the thing, if I go out there and I don’t feel as strong and I can’t compete, well like I said, that’s really what it’s about, is that I know that I still competed in that match. Even though it wasn’t my best performance, I still competed. And, you know, he doesn’t hit me, he doesn’t do anything, he has this 80-inch reach and he can’t touch me. You know, those are things that I put into consideration. Yes, I said if I lost I would (retire). But again, what I’m saying is, if I go out there and get beat up like I did the last two fights, you know, where I still can’t compete with those guys – which I clearly showed I can’t. Now I’ll be better, I think at 185. But like I said, if I go out there and I can’t compete, well I guess I can’t make 170, right? And I’m not going to try to ever again. It’s just too hard on my body. And if I fight good at 185, well then I’m gonna stay there. But if I don’t do good, then guess what, it’s time. I had my fun, I had my time. It’s not worth going out there and training for 12 weeks and then being done, or going out there and just losing. And that’s really what it’s about. And here’s one thing that really leads me to believe that that fight was mine – did you hear the boos after that? The whole crowd thought I won that fight. So I don’t want to leave whenever the fans think I’ve won. And that’s really where my head’s at, is that hey, they believe I won that fight, so I’m gonna do one more. And here’s the thing, I don’t care about retirement. And you’re right, I did use that as something to get people off my back about what’s next, what’s next. And for me it was just sort of something that I could do easily. Plus, I don’t know if you saw my little media rant (at UFC 207), I plan on doing something else like that if they keep asking the same questions over and over. But I want people to realize what’s going on right now.”

After the hardships he went through financially and physically, if Hendricks wishes he moved to Middleweight a number of fights ago

“You know what, realistically, there’s a part of me that wanted to move up right after I lost to Lawler. Once I lost that fight, I was sitting there going, you know what, I wonder if I can move up? And really, that’s where my head’s been since then, is hey, let’s just move up. It’s going to be harder, but life will be more enjoyable. But the thing is, with that being said, after the Lawler fight, I knew that if I did one thing I could be back in the hunt. Well guess what, I’m chasing a rabbit that I can’t catch, because it’s either the weight hurts me or I do make weight and I don’t fight to my ability, and there’s so much that’s going on. Like I said, I’m just done chasing the rabbit. I sort of want to fight for me and me alone. There’s a lot that goes into moving up as well. For example, I still want to stay 205 like I have been, 210. So I don’t want to balloon up to 240 and have to cut down to 185 or 230 and do the same thing and hey, you still have to lose 50 pounds. I want to stay at 205, build up my strength and start focusing on what I need to get better, not about the weight. Most of my camp, half of it is focusing on how to get myself down to 170. Well like I said, Friday I wasn’t trying and I hit 196. Alright, well now I’m ten over. Now I can actually go to my coach and say, “hey, what do we need to work on”? They’re like, “well how’s your weight?”. My weight? Oh, right now I am exactly 15 over. I wake up at like 13 over and by the time I see them I’m 15 to 16 over. That’s sort of nice to have in your back pocket when it comes to training.”

“A perfect example is look at “Cowboy”, Donald Cerrone. He was strugging at 155, he moves up to welterweight. Now he’s not cutting as much weight, he’s not killing himself. He’s able to fight better. So you’re going, there is a possibility that that’s all I needed to do, is move up. Move up to 185 and I could be a better fighter for that. But like I said, if they still had IV’s, then it wouldn’t be a question. In my last couple of fights, I wouldn’t have been hurting like I was and you can re-fluid yourself a thousand times better. But you have to adapt with the times. If times are now that you can’t use IV’s, then guess what, adapt with them. Move up in weight, get something more now around my natural body-weight.”

Thoughts on drawing a smaller middleweight in Hector Lombard as his first opponent in the division

“And that’s really what I like, is that he’s somebody that’s gonna be strong. He’s gonna be strong for middleweight, right? He’s gonna be a guy that has been at welterweight and you can test the waters with (him). You can move and you can see how it’s gonna be.”

On his advantages over Lombard and how he sees the fight playing out

“I think it’s gonna do good. I think it’s gonna do very good. Because you gotta think, I have knockout power too, I just haven’t been able to show it because I didn’t have – I really think that it’s because I’ve been using all of my energy to make welterweight. Now what if I can use all that time and effort and refocusing from using all my energy to go to 170, if I can use that energy to get my power back, to get my combinations better, to get my energy levels back and be able to fight the way that I want to. I could knock people out again. And in my head I’m thinking, hey, if I can be stronger, I’m still gonna be faster because I’m so used to 170, right? Whereas these middleweights, they’re not used to fighting welterweights that have fast hands. Don’t get me wrong, middleweights, they’re gonna have heavy hands as well. But if I can be faster than them because I’m not ballooning up myself to fit middleweight, I’m trying to just make myself where I fit middleweight in a way that doesn’t strain me. Like I said, if I can go out there, do a little bit of strength, still stay fast, still have cardio and have the wrestling background that I do, I think I can compete with a lot of the guys at middleweight. I really do.”

If he has the middleweight title in mind

“Well it’s something that I want, of course. Because anything I do, I wanna set myself to the highest standard. So if I tell myself, oh it’s not in the mindset, then why am I moving up to middleweight? I should just retire now. I should just say, hey, I’m done with it and move on. But, it is in my mindset. Even though I haven’t fought up there yet, it’s something that I’d like to try to achieve. Who knows if I can, right? But who’s to say I can’t. Yeah I’m not the tallest guy. Yeah I don’t look like a 185-pounder, but I don’t look like a 170-pounder either. And that’s what it really boils down to. In my mind I’m telling myself, I can and I will. And I think that’s the most important thing.”

If Hendricks will look to test free agency now that he’s only got one fight left on his UFC contract

“My standing with the UFC is good, I think (laughs). I hope it is. And you know what, really, I haven’t thought much on that. I haven’t. I know they’re probably thinking, “well is Johny washed up, can he do more or can he not”? So in my head, I’m thinking I still have to prove my worth. So I gotta go out there and perform to a way I know I can. And if I do that, I get my hand raised, they’ll probably come back with another contract. But then again, even though I win, they might say, “Johny, we just don’t see you as a middleweight and sorry”. And if that happens, then we’ll reassess what I need to do. But as of right now, literally your contract is on the line, right?”

If he feels pressure to go out there and have a really good performance so his next UFC contract is something he’d be happy with

“Yeah, that’s exactly right. And that’s the way I’m looking at it. Every fight is your most important one, and this could be my last one, meaning that they might say, “we don’t want you back”. Even if I go out there and win they might say, “Johny, we don’t want you back,” or they might say, “hey, we do want you back”. So that’s how important this fight is to me, that I gotta go out there and prove my worth. Does it put more pressure on me? No. I think what it really boils down to, is can I still perform like I want to and is middleweight the weight that is gonna let me do that, let me show the fans and show the people that I can still do what I want to do and achieve what I need to achieve? And I do believe that. Even right now my shape is good. I’m running, I’m doing things that I need to be doing like I would if I was making 170. And I’ll tell you a little secret. Guess what. I’m not gonna make 185. I’ve always felt the best at 182. Whenever I hit 182, I still feel awesome. And guess what I feel like whenever I fight my best? 195. So instead of gaining 20 pounds, that 20 pounds sitting on you, I don’t want to see over 195 the day of the fight. And that’s really, like I told my coaches, I said this before already, I didn’t go up in weight to gain weight or to just say, “hey, it doesn’t matter, I can fight at 185 and jump up to 210 to fight”. No. When do I feel the quickest, when do I feel the strongest? It’s right around 182. I still have to eat good, I still have to run, I still have to work hard. And on fight day, if I can fight right around 192-195, that’s where I’m gonna be the quickest, the strongest and have the best shape. And now the way that I’m looking at it, instead of gaining 25 pounds back to fight, if I can do ten pounds now, now I’m not gonna be as heavy, as water loaded and all these things that have hurt me in the past. I’m gonna be cutting all that out.”

Prediction

“Right now, I really think that once a couple of things happen, I think that my hands are gonna do the work because he’s gonna be a guy that’s not going to back away from me. He’s gonna be a guy that’s gonna move forward, that doesn’t care about my power. He’s gonna try to hit me and I know I’m gonna be able to touch him. So I have a feeling that my hands are gonna be what ends the fight.”

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