Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks believes that he needs to go back down to 170.
At this time four years ago, Johny Hendricks was the UFC welterweight champion after winning a thriller against Robbie Lawler. Since then, Hendricks has won just two of his last eight fights, and he’s currently not on the UFC roster.
Still unsigned as a free agent, Hendricks discussed his future in the sport, and while his multiple weight cutting problems led to a move up to middleweight, he believes he needs to return to 170. (Transcription via MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew)
“I’m a free agent,” Hendricks said to MMAjunkie radio. “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.”
That’s a complete 180-degree turn from what he said over a year ago, which was, “I don’t want to see ’70 ever again. I’m officially done with it.”
Of course, even at middleweight, Hendricks found himself unable to make weight for his June 2017 bout vs. Tim Boetsch. “Bigg Rigg” came in at 188 pounds, and was stopped in the second-round. He was able to get his weight under control for his ensuing fight vs. Paulo Costa, but the end result was another TKO loss.
Apparently Hendricks never even wanted to go to middleweight in the first place.
“Right after my last fight I emailed them 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 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.”
It’s been an enormous fall from the top for Hendricks, and while the 35-year-old still wants to fight on, the odds of him returning to title contention are incredibly slim at this point.