Johny Hendricks is much more than a former UFC champion.
He’s a husband, father of four, a great teammate, and a fighter on a mission to earn another shot at reclaiming the belt. With three fights left on his current contract, Johny plans on taking it one step at a time to put himself back in contention in the welterweight division. First on the path is his current opponent, Kelvin Gastelum, whom he will share the cage with on July 9, 2016, on the prelims of potentially the biggest card in the history of the UFC during International Fight Week, UFC 200.
His last outing didn’t go so well, as the former champion admitted his focus wasn’t on his last opponent, the very dangerous striker Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, yet rather on his weight cut, which was a dark cloud hanging over his head since the incident at UFC 192 in Houston, Texas. Leading up to the fight against Thompson, he couldn’t escape the myriad of questions about weight management, resulting in external pressure which detracted his focus from the fight itself. Johny’s fight was on the scale first and “Wonderboy” second.
This time, expect to see a new Johny Hendricks enter the cage on July 9. His focus is locked in on the fight and his opponent, with weight issues by the wayside. For the second time in a row, Johny is working with Lou Giordano, his weight management specialist, who has become good friend with the former champion. Lou’s impact on Johny’s weight cuts has been a positive one in their short time together, getting the results necessary to ensure Johny will make weight easily. With stepping on the scale no longer being an issue, Johny can focus on what he does best, and that’s inflicting pain on his opponents inside the Octagon.
Having spoken with Johny before the fight against Stephen Thompson and now this fight with Gastelum, the vibe is completely different. Johny is happier and his coaches are happier, which creates a confident team, and a confident fighter heading into the cage at UFC 200. With the renewed focus, Johny feels he’s still growing as a fighter while working with Steven Wright, his striking coach, who’s constantly pushing him in training while implementing new techniques and combinations.
During our interview, Johny spoke on what it means to fight on one of the biggest fight cards of the year and why he will see the new version of Johny.
Matthew Wells: Johny, you have a big fight coming up next weekend, facing Kelvin Gastelum. It’s UFC 200, International Fight Week, what are you looking forward to the most next week?
Johny Hendricks: What am I looking forward to the most next weekend? The 8 AM weigh-in. That’s gonna be sweet! By 8:30, I plan on eating breakfast! That’s gonna be awesome. Second, it’s UFC 200. Look at the card. Besides the Brock card (fight), Brock being on there, in my opinion…that’s a stacked card. You know what I’m saying? Even though I like Brock and I like Mark Hunt, he’s a good fighter, you know what I mean? I just see those (other) four fights alone, could hold any card, right? It’s all on UFC 200 and I’m privileged enough to be involved in that. So that right there is huge for me, I’m super excited. What can I say, I’m a fanboy! I love Cain Velasquez, so I can’t wait to see him fight. I became friends with Cain Velasquez through DC. DC was the one who said ‘hey, come hang out with us,’ and he was always around Cain, then I became Cain’s friend, and then, I’m also a big Frankie Edgar fan. Miesha Tate? Awesome. So I’m excited for four out of the five, I’ll be sitting in the back chillin’, ya know, relaxing and watching just like everybody else! I’m invested in four out of the five fights, I’m super excited. I can’t wait to see DC, Cain, and those guys to see how they’re doing. So more than anything, just being a fanboy.
MW: With all of those awesome fights going on at UFC 200, and the two nights prior to that, have you given it any thought of having a special performance to leave a lasting image? Winning the weekend and standing out against these other awesome fights?
JH: Haha! No! I mean, really, if I go out there and I perform, I’ll do that. But you’ve also gotta know that you’re competing against DC, Jon Jones, Cain, Travis Browne, then you’ve got Frankie/Aldo, Miesha Tate. You’re sitting here going, ‘Ok, I’ve gotta compete with all those guys?’ Don’t try to compete. I’ve always been the one who just tries to be the one that’s always noticed. I want to be the one that everyone talks about afterwards. If I can go in there and get a good win, show that I’m dominant, and dominate for three rounds. If I can dominate for three rounds, then everyone’s gonna be like, ‘Did you see that Johny/Gastelum fight? Yeah, we sort of knew who was going to win the main events, but did you see that fight? He just dominated him. I thought it was supposed to be a close match.’
MW: On your UFC 200 face paint image, there are a couple of quotes on there I’d like you to explain for me. The first one that caught my eye is, “My power is back.” Is there something in your previous fights, maybe dealing with weight cutting issues and things like that that may have affected your power?
JH: That, and mentally. Sitting here saying I don’t care about any other fight. I don’t care about anything else except for this. If you go back and look at all of my other interviews, it was always about the person at that point and the belt, nothing else. It wasn’t ‘Who would you be if you beat GSP,’ or this or that, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was this person at this moment, and then the belt, and that’s what I’m going back to. The only person that’s mattered in this camp for the last three months is Gastelum. What can he do? He can fight forward, he can fight backward, you know, figuring out any and every which way he could fight me. And then also, how do I get back to the belt? That’s why I always have it on my mind. Go out there and perform on July 9th at UFC 200.
MW: I guess that ties into the other as well where it says, “It’s a new Johny!”
JH: It’s a new Johny! Exactly. You know, take a step back, sometimes you get caught up in the fact that everyone wants to hear “What are you thinking next? What’s in your head?” Really? Nothing’s in my head this time. Nobody’s in my head except for Gastelum and that’s the way I’ve gotta treat it. You know, If I want to get back to where I want to be, that means I have to let go of everything else except for one person, and one person only.
MW: Also at UFC 200, you have the new 8% rule coming into play, and as you mentioned, the earlier weigh-ins that you’re really excited about, do you think that both of those things will be beneficial to your performance come fight night?
JH: Yeah! I hit 87 yesterday. So, I’ve got to hit 184. That’s the highest I can be. Ok, I’ve got to lose three pounds by Tuesday. Whoopty-freakin’-do. You know, I can come in here and lose five. I’m not too worried about that. The weight is no longer an issue. I got Louis. Loutrition! That’s why he’s here, and that’s one thing I’ve very grateful for and I’m very happy he did that article. Yeah, me and Dolce, we had a good run, but man, having Lou by my side has been a blessing in disguise. I learn different ways. I can still eat bad, but it still be good for you. For example, in the off-season, I can go have Whataburger. Just have the burger! Don’t eat the fries! Get you a drink, eat the burger. Would he want me to do that? No. But he knows me, he knows who I am, so he’s going to say, “Johny, if you’re craving something, go get it. Just send me a picture of it, and don’t eat the fries.” If we’re going to eat pizza, I’ll eat three pieces and leave the rest, and come back later. That way I’m not devouring a large pizza by myself, and still wanting more. Self-control. That’s been the biggest thing he’s put on me so far. This last fight camp, I got up to 202, and usually I get up to 215. The fight before I was 208. This time, I’m 202, so this weight cut has been easier. I’ve been hovering right around 90, 92 for three weeks now. It’s been nice.
MW: You have three fights left on your current deal, is there anyone in your sights after you get past Kelvin Gastelum?
JH: NO!!! Nobody else matters. If I overlook Kelvin, I might look like I did last fight. That ain’t happenin’ twice in a row. I’ve got to go out there and make sure that Kelvin Gastelum is the only one in my picture. After Saturday night, when everybody starts asking questions, then I’ll answer those.
Johny and his team are confident that July 9 will be a great outing for the former welterweight champion. While Hendricks and Gastelum are both coming off losses in their last fights, they believe this is a perfect spot to get back on the winning track and working their way back up to a title shot.
Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes
Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.
Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).
In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.
Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”
In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.
This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.
Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video
Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.
The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.
Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)
Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.
RN: 265 lb.
MM: 255 lb.
Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.
PF: 155 lb.
DC: 154 lb.
Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.
HH: 126.25 lb*
AJ: 125 lb.
Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.
LM: 203.75 lb.
VN: 205 lb.
Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.
TW: 145 lb.
JS: 142.25 lb.
Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)
Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
RS: 155.5 lb.
RL: 156 lb.
Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout.
MK: 135.75 lb.
GT: 135 lb.
Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.
RC: 145 lb.
TE: 146 lb.
Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.
JT: 205.5 lb.
WH: 203 lb.
Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.
MS: 156 lb.
DH: 155.25 lb.
Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.
PN: 163.5 lb.
KX 164.5 lb.
Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
TH: 154 lb.
PC: 155.5 lb.
*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.
UFC 221 Rockhold vs. Romero Live Results
UFC 221 marks the first event hosted by the promotion in Western Australia. UFC 221 takes place in Perth, Australia at the Perth Arena. The co-main event features Australian star, Mark Hunt against Curtis Blaydes. In the main event, Luke Rockhold looks to earn the Middleweight interim title when he takes on Yoel Romero. Romero is not eligible to earn the interim Middleweight title due to the fact that the Cuban missed weight. Yoel Romero replaced the original headliner of the card, Robert Whittaker. Whittaker, current Middleweight champion, withdrew from the event due to a serious case of mistreated staph infection.
FIGHT NIGHT BONUSES:
Fight of the night: Li Jianliang vs. Jake Matthews
Performance of the night: Jussier Formiga, Israel Adesanya
MAIN CARD – PPV – 10PM/7PM ETPT
- Yoel Romero (12-2) vs. Luke Rockhold (13-3) – Catchweight (187.7) bout
- Result: Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via KO (punch) 1:48 round 3
- Mark Hunt (13-11, 1 NC) vs. Curtis Blaydes (8-1, 1 NC) – Heavyweight bout
- Result: Curtis Blaydes def. Mark Hunt via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
- Tai Tuivasa (8-0) vs. Cyril Asker (9-3) – Heavyweight bout
- Result: Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (punches and elbows) 2:18 round 1
- Jake Matthews (12-3) vs. Li Jianliang (14-4) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Jake Matthews def. Li Jianliang via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)
- Tyson Pedro (6-1) vs Saparbek Safarov (8-1) – Light Heavyweight bout
- Result: Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via submission (kimura) 3:54 round 1
PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 8PM/5PM ETPT
- Damien Brown (17-11) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (15-8-3) – Lightweight bout
- Result: Dong Hyun Kim def. Damien Brown via split decision (29-28, 29-28 Kim, 29-28 Brown)
- Rob Wilkinson (11-1) vs. Israel Adesanya (11-0) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Israel Adesanya def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (punches) 3:37 round 2
- Jeremy Kennedy (11-0) vs Alexander Volkovski (16-1) – Featherweight bout
- Result: Alexander Volkovski def. Jeremy Kennedy via TKO (punches) 4:57 round 2
- Jussier Formiga (20-5) vs Ben Nguyen (17-6) – Flyweight bout
- Result: Jussier Formiga def. Ben Nguyen via technical submission (RNC) 1:43 round 3
EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 6:30PM/3:30PM ETPT
- Ross Pearson (21-12, 1 NC) vs. Mizuto Hirota (19-8-2) – Lightweight bout
- Result: Ross Pearson def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Teruto Ishihara (10-4) vs. José Alberto Quiñónez (7-2) – Bantamweight bout
- Result: José Alberto Quiñónez def. Teruto Ishihara via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Luke Jumeau (12-4) vs. Daichi Abe (6-0) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Luke Jumeau def. Daichi Abe via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-27)
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