Newly converted middleweight Johny Hendricks recorded an impressive victory over top 20 contender Hector Lombard in Nova Scotia, Canada. “Bigg Rigg” won by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Hendricks came in as a slight underdog after three consecutive defeats at welterweight but after victory in co-main event, Hendricks is eager for a rematch with Canadian giant Georges St-Pierre.
After a closely contested first round, one in which many believed the Cuban to have been more effective, Hendricks needed to up his game. However, due to the nature of the fighters, it was always likely to be the case that Lombard started the quicker of the pair.
After a low-blow in the second round of the fight, the Oklahoman took a breather to recover. After serving more punishment, “Lightning” lost his flash and started to slow. Hendricks took the round as he dominated the last half of the second round with vicious knees.
With the third and final round being all to play for in hindsight, both fighters had the opportunity to claim their stake as victor. Lombard came out firing with a huge right hand but Hendricks was happy to take it and return with a strike of his own. Johny went to what served him so well for the majority of the fight – his knees. After a couple of knees and a significant strike from Hendricks, he appeared to be taking control. However, it was visible that he had hurt his hand and was consequently backed up with a barrage of body kicks from Lombard. However, Hendricks did just enough to take the round and win the judges’ scorecards.
Making weight no longer an issue for Hendricks
Usually known for his struggle to make weight at welterweight, Hendricks jump to middleweight was a logical move. After failing to make weight and having kidney problems, Hendricks stated in the UFC Halifax post-fight press conference: “I’m not killing myself. I’m not having to go home worrying about my kidneys shutting down. I don’t have to worry about none of that. All I’ve got to worry about is start barbequing and having some fun again.”
The American also promised to stay in better shape. After revealing he had no strength and conditioning coach and promised to be in better shape for future bouts.
“I wanna stay around 205-210 [lbs] like I have been,” explained Hendricks to the press after his win. “But you know, this fight we didn’t get a strength and conditioning coach, it was a quick turn around, the next fight I’m going to be better.
“I’m going to have better cardio and those are things that even scare me a little bit but excite me at the same time. How much better could I be if I knew my third round was as good as it was today and could push harder in the second round? I could’ve tried harder in the third. And the second. But my mind is so trained to being tired by the third round.”
Hendricks wants to beat up GSP again
Throughout the post-fight press conference, Hendricks was eager to point out his happiness. The Team Takedown athlete felt like he used to. He had found his former self.
Speaking to the media the former welterweight questioned: “When was the last time you saw me putting things together? It’s been what, two years? Yeah. Yeah. I’m going to take what I’ve got. The first thing I told my coach is ‘I actually flowed out there’. That’s the first time in I don’t know how long. It’s been a long time, probably the Matt Brown fight”.
After proclaiming his love for Canada, Hendricks spoke on the possibility of facing “GSP” upon his UFC comeback, affirming: “Just because I praise Canada it doesn’t mean I don’t wanna beat up George St. Pierre again. You know what I’m saying?”.
Despite recently moving to middleweight, Hendricks insisted that he is happy to go back down to welterweight as he is only 12lbs over the threshold as it stands. He stated that with a strength and conditioning coach, he could easily make the weight again and is ready to fight whenever the UFC need him to. Whether it’ll be an ascendancy upon the middleweight division or a rematch with the Canadian giant at welterweight, time will tell.