In middleweight reinvention, ex-welterweight champ Johny Hendricks in midst of big camp push
Now that he’s trying to reinvent his career as a middleweight, former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks is able to have a new lease on life when it comes to training camps.
As a welterweight, there is little doubt training camps often were the bane of Hendricks’ existence leading up to fights. He had a history of struggling to hit 170 pounds and a reputation for bulking up well past 200 in between fights.
For a fight against Robbie Lawler for the then-vacant welterweight title at UFC 171, Hendricks came in heavy on his first try and had to return later having shed the pounds. For a fight at UFC 192 against Tyron Woodley, his weight cut went so wrong he had to be hospitalized the day before the fight and the bout never happened.
At UFC 200 and UFC 207, he came in off the mark both times and surrended portions of his fight purse to Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny, respectively, and lost decisions to both of them.
But in February, finally having had enough of the struggles to get to 170, Hendricks moved up to 185 pounds. The payoff was immediate with a decision win over former Bellator champ Hector Lombard.
In June, Hendricks (18-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC) continues on his middleweight path against Tim Boetsch (20-11 MMA, 11-10 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 112, which takes place at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for Hendricks, who wrestled nearby at Oklahoma State University.
But at this point in his training camp, still two months out, the former champ said it’s all about pushing himself.
“More than anything, I just want to make sure that each workout I do, I am pushing myself to the limit,” Hendricks told MMAjunkie Radio as part of his weekly check-in during the camp for his fight with Boetsch. “So if I’m doing three workouts in one day, I want to make sure that I’m pushing myself to where the next day I’m sore. That’s really what I’m trying to do.”
It’s only been three years since Hendricks beat Lawler to win the title. But he lost the belt nine months later in their rematch. After a win over Matt Brown attempting to get back on track and get another shot at Lawler, he suffered the first knockout loss of his career when Stephen Thompson shut him down in the UFC Fight Night 82 main event.
Then came the losses to Gastelum and Magny, and the decision to make a quick turnaround as a middleweight. He took on Lombard only seven weeks after he lost to Magny – but that fast training camp for the fight in Canada was made easier by not having to shed the extra 15 pounds.
This time around, for Boetsch, he has the benefit of a lengthy camp – and he knows the weight cut is one that so much more managable going to 185. But he knows his toughest weeks of camp are right about now.
“It’s usually Week 3 because I’m going to push myself really hard,” he said. “It might even be Week 4, because I still have enough time to add shape, lose weight, whatever it might be. So I have some leeway once I do that push.”
He’ll just be hoping that push leads to another middleweight win when he steps in against Boetsch, and a continued reinvention in the new weight class.
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