For the first time in 7 years, the UFC welterweight championship was wrapped around the waist of a fighter not named Georges St. Pierre. As Johny Hendricks made good on his 2nd shot at the belt, defeating fellow welterweight title contender Robbie Lawler to capture the vacant UFC welterweight title. This victory did not come easy for “Big Rigg” as he had to overcome a multitude of heavy shots from Lawler in the 3rd and 4th rounds, causing the right side of his face to swell up. At the end of his second consecutive hard fought 5-round title fight, Hendricks this time would have his hand raised as the victor.
Awaiting another anxious decision after the fight’s conclusion, Hendricks had flashbacks of his previous result against Georges St. Pierre. And describes at the post-fight press conference what he was going through in those few minutes waiting for the decision to be read by Bruce Buffer.
“I damn near died again. I was sitting there I was like ‘man, not another GSP’,” Hendricks said. “I fought hard, so did Robbie, take nothing away from him. He fought hard too. We were out there, I was looking, I was like man just please call my name, call my name. And they did. It hasn’t really sank in yet. I know this thing’s sitting in front of me but that’s the way it’s always been for me. It’ll take me a couple weeks before I look back and say ‘oh my god I’m the UFC champ’ “.
“Realistically I thought we were both going to knock each other out in the 1st or 2nd round. I definitely didn’t think we were going five”.
Hendricks broke down the fight round by round, well aware that it was 2 rounds to 2 going into the 5th and that he needed to win the final round to win the title.
“Round 1, I was like awesome, doing my game plan, cool.”
“Round 2, again, sort of doing what I need to do to get the job done.”
“Round 3, Robbie hit me and at the moment I was just like, s–t. I gotta fire back, if I don’t he’s going to kill me. He’s a heavy handed dude, obviously, nobody’s made me look like this. I was sitting there I was like I gotta fight through this, I gotta fight through this. That was the only thing.”
“Then the 4th Round came, and I was like alright let’s change this up, change this up. Robbie did a good job, sort of staying the pocket, I was a little hesitant to fire and Robbie wasn’t. And obviously those 2 won him the round.”
“And the 5th [Round], pretty much saw my wife in the corner, and I was like I gotta win, I gotta win this round. The 5th round was the decider, and I was able to do it, thank god.”
There was anticipation and nervousness surrounding the main event even prior to Saturday night, as Johny Hendricks had to step on the scale twice in a span of 2 hours to make the 170 lb weight limit.
“My weight cut was my fault, and my fault only. Hopefully we’ll make it better and have a better performance too,” Hendricks said.
“Poor weight planning on my part, or my scale. I thought we were on weight. And that took us another hour, realisitcally find a place to run for 20 minutes, that’s all I had to do. It sucks that it happened to me. I promise that won’t happen again. That’s so embarrassing, for me, I’ve never missed weight. I don’t plan on doing it again.”
Much was talked about post-fight as to who Johny Hendricks’ next opponent would be, several names were thrown out there including Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard, and Rory MacDonald. But now that he’s achieved his goal of becoming the champ, Hendricks doesn’t plan to call anybody out, just keeping his mouth shut.
“I’m not going to call anybody else out. I’m not that type of person. I always called the champ out, cause I wanted to be him. Now that I’m here, I keep my mouth shut and go about my business.”
When asked if a potential rematch with GSP would interest him, Hendricks didn’t think that he needed to beat GSP to solidify his title win, but did welcome a 2nd fight with the former champ.
“I’d like to fight Georges again. I think it’d be fun. We had a good match, I think I’m better. There’s better situations, I’m going to get stronger, this is my 2nd fight for 5-rounds”.
Johny Hendricks capped off the event by putting into perspective the whole night, including what a privilege it was for him to compete in front of his hometown in Dallas, Texas.
“Oh yeah I heard the chants. They were rooting for Robbie, they were rooting for me. They were rooting for Robbie, they were rooting for me,” Hendricks said. “They were going back and forth, but you know what? Was that not an exciting fight? Was that not a great end to this amazing show? Look at all these fighters, I’m just happy I was the main event on some of these guys that fought tonight. They did awesome. I’m just privilege that the UFC gave me a chance to do it in my hometown, that’s awesome.”