Johny Hendricks was once one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, but rampant speculation that ‘Big Rig’ was an avid user of performance-enhancing drugs has seemingly tarnished his impressive resume.
Debuting for the UFC in 2009, Johny Hendricks ran through a who’s who at welterweight, including Jon Fitch, Carlos Condit, Josh Koshcheck, and Martin Kampmann. However, Hendricks’ success did not last as he unceremoniously exited the UFC in 2017 after dropping five of his last six bouts inside the Octagon. Ironically, Hendricks’ struggles began around the same time that the promotion partnered with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Before his downward spiral, Johny Hendricks earned himself a welterweight title opportunity at UFC 167, taking on then-champion Georges St-Pierre. GSP walked away with his title intact via split decision, but many still argue that ‘Big Rig’ did more than enough to dethrone the French Canadian icon that evening. Looking back on the fight and Hendricks’ downfall, Firas Zahabi, St-Pierre’s longtime coach and the proprietor of Tristar Gym, believes that Hendricks was using banned substances going into their world title clash and likely throughout his impressive run.
“Guys, I do think he was on PEDs. Yeah, I do, honestly,” Zahabi said on the Tristar Gym YouTube channel. “His drop-off was so significant. When he fought Georges [St-Pierre], he admitted to being 220 [pounds] in the octagon. So, he made 170 and he went up 50 pounds? That’s insane. Georges was probably 185.
“What’s the whole point of the weight class? The whole point of the weight class is two guys of the same size are going to fight each other, that’s what it’s about” (h/t MMA Fighting)
Firas Zahabi Agreed to Pay $10,000 Out of His Own Pocket to Have Johnny Hendricks Tested Ahead of GSP Bout
With no governing body like USADA working with the promotion at the time of their welterweight title fight, Zahabi revealed that he had agreed to pay $10,000 out of his own pocket to ensure that both fighters were tested through VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association).
“I felt Johny did that a bit,” Zahabi said of seeking advantages. “You’re tricking the system so well by fighting this smaller guy. I think he probably did use PEDs.
“Johny Hendricks in an interview said he would do testing. This is public information. Me and Georges St-Pierre took it upon ourselves to hire VADA, who’s going to independently test both teams and they’re gonna publish it no matter what the result. Even if there’s a false positive, false whatever. The results will be published and an explanation soon to come. That’s it. That was music to our ears.
“The UFC didn’t want to use this group, they wanted to use another group,” he continued. “They wanted to use the Nevada state. Okay, let’s do both testing, let’s make everybody happy. I offered to pay $10,000 from my own pocket. Georges will pay one test, I will pay for the other, there’s no money coming out of anybody else’s pockets. Every test under the sun, let’s do it.”
As it turns out, Johny Hendricks never tested through VADA despite openly agreeing to do so. Zahabi believes Hendricks’ dishonest actions leading into the fight and his subsequent collapse speak for themselves.
“What happened in the end? Only Georges St-Pierre got drug tested,” Zahabi said. “In the end, we paid VADA to test Georges St-Pierre. Johny Hendricks did not keep his word. He said he would take any test and he did not. Why didn’t he keep his word? You guys tell me.
“I talked to Mike [Dolce] about this and he said, ‘Oh, I think he fell off afterward because he didn’t have the motivation. He just wanted to win the world title and after that, he didn’t have the motivation.’ I don’t know, might be true. I just don’t believe it. I don’t buy it. When you have millions of dollars on the line, you find that motivation. Nobody wants to go down like that. I personally don’t believe. I won’t say it’s impossible or they’re liars, that’s just not my take on it. I think he was on stuff. Why wouldn’t he take the test?”