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Johny Hendricks’ middleweight move is sink or swim: ‘I had my fun, I had my time’

As Johny Hendricks gets ready for his middleweight debut against Hector Lombard, he’s taking a win-or-go-home attitude into the fight.

Former UFC middleweight champion Johny Hendricks is set for a change. And if that doesn’t work out, maybe a bigger one. “Bigg Rigg” is set to make his official middleweight debut against Hector Lombard at UFC Halifax this February. It’s a decision that seems to have been a long time coming.

“You know what, realistically, there’s a part of me that wanted to move up right after I lost to Lawler,” Hendricks revealed. “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,” Hendricks continued. “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.”

If the move up in weight doesn’t work out against Lombard, however, Hendricks says this will be the end of the road for his MMA career. It’s a line he’s tossed out a few times before, but this time he assures fans he’s taking the idea more seriously.

“Really serious,” Hendricks assured Sub Radio when asked about whether his retirement talk had legs. “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),” Hendricks admitted. “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.”

Hendricks also spoke about his troubles with weight cutting against Magny, and what he’s expecting his fight against Lombard to look like, so check the whole thing out. UFC Halifax takes place on February 19th in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The event is expected to be headlined by a heavyweight fight between Travis Browne and Derrick Lewis. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and updates.

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