There was a time not all that long ago that Johny Hendricks was considered the best welterweight on the planet. Unfortunately, his career has taken a rather grim turn, and he’s now a tough 3-7 in his last 10 bouts. Not even a move to the middleweight division, where the weight cut is less taxing, could bring him renewed success.
After his last loss, a knockout at the hands of surging middleweight contender Paulo Costa, Hendricks became a free agent. And though he could surely find a home as a member of the Bellator or PFL rosters, he’s hoping to return to the UFC welterweight division, where he once medalled. Apparently, this is something the UFC is also interested in.
“I’m a free agent,” Hendricks said on MMAJunkie Radio (transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMAFighting). “I am up for grabs. The UFC stills wants me. They want me back at 170 [pounds] and I agree. If you’re gonna keep giving me these big ol’ 85 pounders, I’ve got to get back down to 170.”
While Hendricks says the UFC is interested in re-signing him as a welterweight, he expects a tough road back to title contention.
“I’ve got to fight back to what I want to get to,” said Hendricks. “I’m not that type of guy that says, ‘No, I think I deserve more.’ I will get back to where I want to be at the welterweight division. I really do believe that. I’m starting to get faster. I’m working with a trainer here, Ryan. He’s been working on my fast-twitch movement, he’s been working on my speed – quickness, explosion – and whenever I’m doing these things and then I go back and train boxing or whatever, everyone can see that I’m getting quicker and my weight is coming down.”
Whatever the case, Johny Hendricks says his last two bouts against hulking middleweights Tim Boetsch and Paulo Costa helped rejuvenate his confidence — confidence he’s hoping to carry back down to the UFC welterweight division.
“Right after my last fight I emailed [the UFC] saying, ‘Hey, I want to go back to 170. Obviously, y’all don’t want me at 185. I understand,’” said Hendricks. “And realistically, the only reason I went up to 185 was because I thought I had one more fight on my contract. So I go, screw 170, I’m gonna go to 85 and then we can renegotiate a contract…”
“Needless to say, I got two big ol’ boys [at middleweight] and it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. But after fighting those fights, it really brought back something in me because I was like, ‘Dude, they don’t kick that hard.’ I still hurt all those 85-pounders with my punches and with my kicks. So if I can hurt 85-pounders, what can I do if I go back to 170. It sort of built my confidence back up to where I believe in my power, I believe in what I can do.”
What do you think the future holds for Johny Hendricks?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/2/2018.