Johny Hendricks burst onto the UFC scene in 2009 against The Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah. It only took “Bigg Rigg” a brief 29 seconds to catch Sadollah with his big left hand and announce to the welterweight division that he was for real.
That Hendricks seems to be long gone.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is responsible for the former UFC welterweight champion’s fall. It seems more likely that there are several contributing factors that have led to losses in five of his last seven fights, as well as the weight issues that have plagued him in the last year.
Did his two instant-classic slugfests with Robbie Lawler take that much out of him? Perhaps his weight issues are to blame — he has missed weight three times since signing with the leader in MMA, and he withdrew from a fight with Tyron Woodley due to weight-cutting issues. All of these mishaps on the scale have occurred since 2015.
Some have even gone as far as to insinuate that ever since the USADA has teamed up with the UFC to help clean up the sport, Hendricks has not been the same. You must give everyone the benefit of the doubt, though. Although the timing of the Oklahoma State wrestler’s downfall is suspect and I don’t believe in coincidences, he has never popped hot for performance-enhancing drugs.
None of those factors is solely to blame for the “Bigg Rigg” stalling out. It’s much more probable that all these things, plus some other factors, are collectively to blame for the former champ’s unprecedented fall from grace.
Hendricks lost all three of his fights in 2016. These setbacks, combined with his struggles in the weight department, prompted a move up to the middleweight division. It seemed as if this was exactly what was needed to give Hendricks a jump start. He looked great in his debut at the new weight class, earning a unanimous decision win over an always-dangerous Hector Lombard.
The new-look “Bigg Rigg” would not last, however.
Heading into last weekend’s UFC Fight Night 112 event in Oklahoma City, it seemed safe to assume we would see the best Hendricks ever. Turns out, we shouldn’t assume anything when it comes to the former welterweight champ. First, the anticipation quickly diminished when he came in two pounds overweight. Then, Hendricks lost by knockout against Tim Boetsch.
What’s next for Hendricks? Will the UFC cut him? He has lost four of his last five fights and missed weight three out of the last four as well. It’s hard to say if we’ll ever really know what exactly is going on in Hendricks’ head, or why he seems to be his own worst enemy. We have never seen such a swift and rapid fall from the elite of the sport like we are witnessing with Hendricks.