Johny Hendricks apparently isn’t retiring after all.
The former welterweight champion, who said he would call it a career if he lost to Neil Magny at UFC 207 and then proceeded to do so (albeit by a close and controversial decision), will instead move up to 185 pounds for a rumored bout with Hector Lombard at February 19’s UFC Fight Night 105 from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The move, which was reported by Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com, will come at a time when Hendricks had missed the welterweight limit of 170 pounds prior to his last two fights, with a third fight against current champion Tyron Woodley having been called off due to “Bigg Rigg” being hospitalized because of complications from the weight cut. The UFC attempted to book the reported bout against former Bellator champion Lombard for February 11’s UFC 208 pay-per-view (PPV) event from Brooklyn, New York, but complications with the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) forced it to be moved to the Halifax card.
That could be good news for the event, which recently lost its Junior dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve heavyweight main event after Struve was forced to withdraw due to injury. As it stands right now, it appears dos Santos will be removed from the card after Fabricio Werdum supposedly refused to fight him three times.
The bout comes at an ultimately pivotal time for former champion Hendricks, who has dropped his last three bouts to top welterweights Stephen Thompson, Kelvin Gastelum, and Magny. His issues with making weight are well-documented, as he hardly made the 170-pound limit for his title bout against Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 in March 2014, a “Fight of the Year” candidate which he won by a thrilling-but-close split decision.
Hendricks will face a fighter in a very similar situation in Lombard, the once-touted former Bellator champ who has lost his last two UFC bouts by stoppage after having both Dan Henderson and Magny on the ropes early on. “Lightning” (or “Showeather,” depending on which you prefer) has also had issues with cutting weight down to welterweight, as a failed run at the 170-pound title ended when he was suspended after 2015’s UFC 182 and he returned to the middleweight division where he made his biggest mark.
With losses in their last five combined bouts, these two former champs could be fighting for their jobs in Halifax next month.