Johny Hendricks thanked God, his family, his fans and the UFC after becoming champion at UFC 171, a moment “Bigg Rigg” will never forget.
Hendricks, who felt like he won the belt last year vs. Georges St-Pierre, was forced to listen to the announcement of the scorecards a second time. However, it was his name that came out of Bruce Buffer’s mouth and his waist the belt went around.
“It feels so surreal right now,” he said, during the FOX Sports 2 post-fight show. “It feels like it’s not true.
“When it sinks in, I’m sure I’ll feel better.”
Hendricks had a badly bruised right eye, and complained of issues with one of his arms during the middle of the fight. He controlled the action through the first 10 minutes, but needed a strong fifth to secure the decision.
“When it was cut, I think the middle of the third, it was blurry and I couldn’t see much out of it,” he said. “But you’ve got to adapt. If I wanted to win, I knew I had to do something to make it where it wouldn’t happen as much. I knew he was going to hit me and it was going to hurt, but I knew I could get some punches in return and that’s what I did.”
Hendricks knows he will have plenty of challengers coming after him, as Tyron Woodley, Rory MacDonald and even Nick Diaz have made claims to being the No. 1 contender. There’s also GSP, who vacated the belt after defeating Hendricks.
“The UFC picks my opponents,” he said. “That’s who I’m going to fight. I want to beat No. 2 and if they’re hurt, I’ll face No. 3.”