Johny Hendricks finally got his hands on the UFC welterweight title after a thrilling decision win over the resurgent Robbie Lawler at UFC 171. ‘Bigg Rigg’ had one of the hardest runs ever to the title shot against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167, and the disappointing loss to ‘Rush’ that night left Hendricks distraught.

With the win at 171, Hendricks may have erased the demons of the controversial loss to GSP, but the desire to put that issue to rest once and for all still remains. The newly crowned 170-pound champ stopped by to talk with “The MMA Hour” today, receiving some congratulations from St. Pierre and re-affirming his desire for a rematch with the former longtime champ. He then went to work discussing his win against a very tough Lawler:

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“Man (UFC 171) was a tough fight. It was a relief to win. I haven’t rewatched the fight yet, but in that fifth round I knew I had to turn it on. I knew that I had to win it, and it didn’t matter how. I had to go for the TD and secure the win.”

The fight against ‘Ruthless’ was one of the most exciting welterweight title fights ever, but Hendricks was seemingly in trouble a few times in the middle rounds. He continued:

“He hit me pretty good, but I never thought I couldn’t rebound. I told myself ‘Just calm down and fire back’. I thought that I was going to be able a few more takedowns, but in the first round something happened. I don’t know what, but I’m gonna find out.”

It appears that an injury may have played a role in ‘Bigg Rigg’ taking so much punishment in the bout, but he continued to explain that the injury occurred before fight night:

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“It’s my elbow, it happened a week and a half before, and then it happened in the first round at 171. We though about pulling out before the fight. I had to altar my gameplan (against Lawler). Whenever I tried for a takedown I couldn’t get it. I did it throwing a hook, and I felt my arm pop.”

As well as some weight cutting issues, Hendricks had to deal with an injury in training that nearly forced him from the fight. This interview proves that ‘Bigg Rigg’ has the heart of a lion. If he was pulled from the card, it would have been catastrophic for the UFC, and probably for Hendricks’ hopes of being champ.

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The welterweight division has changed drastically since last year, and Hendricks has emerged atop the marquee category of the UFC.

Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie for USA TODAY Sports

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