The new king of the welterweights Johny Hendricks had a long and tough road to the top of the pack at 170 pounds; after amassing a 10-1 record for the UFC, ‘Bigg Rigg’ was finally granted his shot at Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167. The outcome was a convincing five round war, which ended in a somewhat controversial decision win for GSP.
Hendricks was clearly upset at the decision, but when ‘Rush’ vacated the belt, Hendricks won the war for the vacant strap against Robbie Lawler at UFC 171. Then comes the injury; we learned that JH was nearly forced out of the title fight with ‘Ruthless’ after tearing his bicep. The outlook is not great for the division right now, but ‘Bigg Rigg’ actually had some good news for us when speaking with ‘UFC Tonight’:
“Realistically, I hope to stay to on the same timeline and be back ready to go in normal time, like October-November, that would be perfect,” Hendricks says. "That’s what I’m shooting for. I don’t want to rush it as I want to be perfect, but I want to give other people a shot at the belt.”
“Everybody in the welterweight division deserves a chance. And what’s exciting about the division is that one victory for any guy out there and everything can change. I’m excited to see who the UFC throws at me.”
The news of Hendricks’ injury came around the same time that we learned about Carlos Condit and his torn ACL. ‘The Natural Born Killer’ has been a mainstay at welterweight for years, and his absence only makes things more complicated for the UFC’s marquee division.
It comes as a relief to hear that Hendricks wants to be as active as possible, but that is all dependant on how his rehabilitation period goes. It’s one thing to be eager to fight, but another when you need to be medically cleared and fit to train rigorously.
“I tore my bicep before the fight and so to go five rounds with that was pretty painful. Very painful. But it’s just the wrestler instinct in me that's taught me the difference between being hurt and being injured. I knew it was injured, but I just told myself it was hurt until after the fight.”
The size of Hendricks’ heart was proved during his five round war with Lawler, and only made more impressive by the fact he competed while injured. That fight also shows how much ‘Bigg Rigg’ really wanted the title. Perhaps the disappointment of UFC 167 helped spur him on that little bit extra.
Time will tell how long it will take for the new champ to get back in the cage, but one thing is for sure; there are a lot of hungry contenders waiting for him.