When Lou Giordano decided to devote his career completely to nutrition and health, he did not do so with aspirations of helping high-level athletes. A few years later, here he is in 2015. He’s now known as the architect behind Eddie Gordon’s impressive transformation and the helping hand behind Aljamain Sterling for his upcoming UFC fight on Dec. 10. He’s also the force that is expected to get perennial welterweight contender Johny Hendricks down to 170 pounds in a healthy manner.
All of this newfound success with UFC athletes sort of came together by chance. What motivated Giordano wasn’t the fact that he could one day help high-profile competitors perform at their optimal levels. Instead, it was something much more sincere and very close to home for Giordano.
“I grew up in a very heavy family. Parents, brother, grandparents, cousins — a lot of people in my family were overweight,” Giordano told Combat Press. “I happened to be kind of tall and thin as a child. I just remember being young and watching them suffer and not being able to do certain things, like my father couldn’t take us to the movies or sit at a booth in a diner. I thought maybe if I went to school and got an education in exercise science and nutrition, then maybe I can help them.”
From there, it was only a matter of time before Giordano found himself in the MMA world.
“I’ve been interested in fighting sports since I was a kid,” he said. “I fell in love with wrestling at the age of 10, so I was always into mixed martial arts or anything that had to do with that. Then everything just fused together as I got older.”
Giordano seems to be heading in the right direction. He has only been involved with MMA athletes for a limited time, but he might have hit the jackpot with his newest client, Hendricks.
The former UFC welterweight champ’s story is pretty well documented in the MMA landscape. Hendricks is a very talented fighter who could possibly be the best in the world in his weight class, but it seems like there is one glaring problem: his weight. Though Hendricks has only officially missed weight once in his MMA career, he has openly talked about just how tough it is for him to make the 170-pound limit.
As someone whose future lives and dies with making the right choices when it comes to his nutrition, Hendricks is putting a lot of faith in Giordano and his craft. Most nutritionists trying to break into the scene would kill for an opportunity to work with an athlete the stature of Hendricks.
“I was doing a series of interviews after working with season 19 Ultimate Fighter winner Eddie Gordon,” said Giordano. “As I started to do more interviews, it seemed like a lot of people interviewing me kept bringing up Mike Dolce’s name. I’ve never been one to bad-mouth or bash anybody. I am very confident in what I do, so I thought, ‘You know what, the only way to know if I can do it would be to work with some of the people he’s worked with and let them tell you.’
“I offered Johny Hendricks and B.J. Penn at the time — because B.J. had made a statement not being too happy with Dolce and possible coming back to fight Nik Lentz — so I offered my services to the two of them to see how they will feel. A mutual friend read it, sent it over to Hendricks, he read it and he contacted me and we started talking on the phone.”
Now that Giordano is spearheading this journey for Hendricks toward a safe cut to welterweight, he has started dissecting some things Hendricks can do to better prepare his body for the 170-pound weight class. Anyone who has followed the former champ’s career can tell you the man likes to eat. He even owns a restaurant in Texas.
“He loves to eat, and he is very vocal about it,” Giordano said. “As a lot of Americans do, they love to eat, and especially overeat. The problem with a lot of the fitness experts in the industry — a lot of the stuff they are saying is all true, like eat healthy, eat organic, eat clean and do all those things, but what they are missing is the individual. Some people, like Johny, who loves to eat food, and if you try and take him and basically starve him by giving him little to no food and changing his eating habits overnight, it is never going to work long-term. I always preach the long-term effects of creating an overall lifestyle change. So, with Johny, it was a combination of him liking to overeat and then the people he was working with trying to get him to undereat, and the results obviously speak for themselves.”
Giordano is based on the East Coast, whereas Hendricks is rooted in Texas. The two men will have some logistics to work out to make this tandem a functional one. Though there will be some challenges along the way, Giordano is confident he has what it takes to work with Hendricks either from his home in New Jersey, face-to-face in Texas or wherever else Hendricks ends up during training camp.
“The first thing I do when I start working with a fighter, I like to at least sit down with them at some point,” said Giordano. “In Johny’s case, after we spoke on the phone we were both very eager to start working with each other, but I said, ‘You know what, let me fly down there, sit down, meet you and that way we can start building some sort of a trust relationship.’ The only way my program works is to have trust in each other.
“I fly out there and spent four days not only with him, but with his wife and his three children as well. It was like almost as we’ve been friends for a number of years. Now we are full-on. He won’t eat anything without me seeing it and approving of it. If he is on the road and he can’t get to his meal he has at home, he can tell me where he is and I can come up with a menu and I can tell him what to eat. As we get closer to the fight, I’ll certainly fly out there with him and I’ll be with him every day.”
A lot seems to be riding on the next weight cut for Hendricks. UFC President Dana White has already come out publicly and expressed his desire to see Hendricks fight a weight class higher at middleweight. What happens next in the former champ’s career might not be in the hands of his coaches or management team, but in the hands of his newly hired nutritionist.