Johny Hendricks Interview – UFC 171, Call of Duty and TRT
By Dave Carpinello
The #1 ranked UFC welterweight Johny Hendricks recently took some time to talk with PunchDrunkGamer about his upcoming fight at UFC 171 against Robbie Lawler, the recent ban on TRT, medical marijuana, Call of Duty and more. Enjoy!
PDG: Let’s start with your training leading up to UFC 171; how did your fight camp go this time around?
Johny Hendricks: Camp was good, I am never one to beat around the bush, it was rough but that grind makes me the fighter that I am and it keeps me excited to keep competing.
PDG: Can you give us an example of a typical day in your training, such as workouts, hours, etc.?
Johny Hendricks: A typical day would be me waking up around 11:00 am, eat some breakfast and then I will go running, usually about four miles. After that I will go train for about two hours and then head back home to relax and spend some time with the family. Then I will go back to training from about 8:00 till 10:00 pm, after that depending on how I feel I will either go running again or do some other cardio based workout. I try to get back home around 11:30 pm.
PDG: When you suffered your first and arguably only defeat to Rick Story at The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale, did you make any significant changes to the way that you train leading up to fights?
Johny Hendricks: Yes, I did and my team also changed the way we view every fight. So that loss was a huge, important fight in my career. We changed how I trained, how we watched video of my opponent’s fights and how we assessed every fighter. Up to that fight we were using basically one gameplan for each one of my fights and now we have multiple gameplans for each opponent.
PDG: At UFC 171, you will be facing Robbie Lawler for the UFC Welterweight Title; what advantages do you see for yourself going into this fight?
Johny Hendricks: The biggest one I would have to say is my wrestling and I also think that I am the better striker. I don’t want to succeed anything to him or give anything to him. Since I have found out that I was fighting him, I have been convincing myself that I am the better fighter all-around and that is what it takes in this sport. If you give anything to your opponent pre-fight, you have already lost.
PDG: You bring up wrestling. A lot of people are convinced that is the best core foundation to be successful in mixed martial arts. Have your thoughts on that changed at all and how important do you think it is for younger fighters to go through the collegiate wresting programs before moving on into MMA?
Johny Hendricks: I think it is very important and on top of that, what I tell everybody is that it gives you an education. Getting an education is everything because it may turn out that you are not a great fighter. You know what I am saying and then atleast you have something to fall back on. You just don’t know how good of a career you will have but you will always have that education with you just in case. So that is one thing that wrestling can give you. It can also give you a better understanding of your body, how to react to certain stuff, whether to keep pushing yourself or if you need to take a step back. Those are very important things that you learn in wrestling and they will transition over into MMA.
PDG: Back to your fight with Lawler. Do you have any preferences in regards to where the fight takes place; would you prefer a heavy dose of takedowns with grappling and ground ‘n pound or are you looking for a striking battle with dirty boxing and clinching?
Johny Hendricks: Realistically, I don’t care. What I try to do in any fight is let my body feel out the situation and that dictates where I will take the fight. Because if I go in there and say OK I am just going to take him down… I might try to rush the takedown and then I could get caught with an uppercut or a knee. There are so many things that can finish you in a fight. If I go in there saying I am going to knock this guy out… then you may miss other opportunities such as takedowns that could lead to you winning the fight. So you go into the fight and let your body dictate how the fight will happen.
PDG: A lot of people in the industry are talking about the winner of the Carlos Condit vs Tyron Woodley fight facing the winner of your fight. But there are several more contenders in the welterweight division, not to mention it seems like there is a UFC event every weekend. Is it hard for you to keep track of the top contenders or potential opponents with all of the events going on and the seemingly endless number of new fighters that are popping up on fight cards?
Johny Hendricks: You know, it is but it isn’t. It’s weird because you can sit there and say that you only want to know who the top contenders are. Usually you know them because they have been around and they are usually highly publicized. So you sort of know who is at the top and who is making their way to the top. But what you try to do is say this, this, and this is happening. This fighter is fighting this guy and if they do win they could be the next guy and you sort of try to keep an eye on them. You might fight this guy in like two more fights but then again you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself because that means you also need to win those next two fights. There have been times where I thought I was on track to fight someone but then they lost and it didn’t happen and so you have change your thought process and start all over again. So it is but then it isn’t.
PDG: So I heard you are somewhat of a gamer when you are not training.
Johny Hendricks: Yes, I am. Lately it has been all about Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. That is pretty much my main game and I also play quite a bit of games on my phone because when you are traveling all the time it is hard to take your Xbox with you. I do take my Alienware gaming computer with me when I can and get some PC gaming in but sometimes it is even hard to get your computer out and have the time to play. I have come to find though that having a few games that you are dedicated too helps you from going insane from all the travel and other aspects of this sport.
PDG: Going back to MMA. What are thoughts on the recent decision to ban testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)?
Johny Hendricks: Really, I didn’t care either way. It was approved so if you needed it, cool whatever. Now that it is no longer approved, those guys will have to leave it alone. It doesn’t really bother me and I probably have fought some guys that have been using it but it never affected me. I personally have never had to use it so I can’t really say too much about it because I don’t know what it was doing to their bodies.
PDG: When they were letting fighters use TRT, the commissions were still treating medical marijuana and recreational use of marijuana like a performance enhancing drug (PED). What is your opinion on that and should fighters be able to use medical marijuana?
Johny Hendricks: Here is the thing, marijuana is still illegal in how many states, 50 out of 52! So your sitting there and knowing that it is illegal basically everywhere and so I look at that situation a little bit differently. I don’t know all of the facts about it but I do know that for one thing it can help you stay relaxed and calm. So that could give a fighter an edge going into a fight because if you were stressed, you could smoke a little bit, calm down and potentially give you an advantage going into the Octagon because you could have the mindset of “well I am not to worried about this fight”. Whereas your opponent could be really stressed out and it could cause him to make a mistake that costs him the fight. That brings us back to the TRT issue, what does it do to your body? Does it make 18 again?
PDG: That is good perspective. I have got one more for you. Do you care one way or the other if Georges St-Pierre returns to the UFC?
Johny Hendricks: No, I don’t. I didn’t win that fight but I have sort of made my peace with it. It has always been about the championship belt. That belt means everything to me and now I have another opportunity to take it. I don’t want to take anything away from GSP because he has done amazing things for the sport but I want to make my own legacy.
PDG: So getting a chance to avenge that “loss” isn’t high on your list of priorities right now?
Johny Hendricks: No, it definitely isn’t at the top. First, I want to get the belt and then there are a few other things to take of in the welterweight division before I can even think about that.
PDG: Cool, thanks for your time, is there anything else that you wanted to add?
Johny Hendricks: I just want to thank all of my fans, my family, my teammates, my coaches and my sponsors that help make this possible. Don’t miss the fight this weekend because it is going to be a great battle!
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