Rehabbing UFC champ Hendricks looking ahead

UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Kevin Jairaj/Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s a good thing UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks is a lefty.

That’s because Hendricks had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s Texas Rangers game and he did so with a bulky brace on his right arm as a result of surgery for a torn biceps muscle.

And just like his has through his rise through the UFC ranks, Hendricks connected with a strike.

"I wasn’t nervous until they said we had five minutes to go out there and they gave me a net (to warm up)," Hendricks said. "The net’s about 5 by 5 and I’ hitting all over that net and I’m going ‘I need a target.’ Once I got on the mound and I saw his (Rangers bench coach Tim Bogar) glove then it all went away"

Hendricks won the title in Dallas last month by beating Robbie Lawler at UFC 71. He did so despite the biceps injury and then he also suffered a fracture in his shin during the fight.

Those injuries weren’t going to stop Hendricks, who trains in Pantego and lives in nearby Arlington, from winning the title.

"Anytime you go in a fight you try to get in there as injury free as you can because training is so hard,"€ he said. "Whenever you train it’s not as if you go in there 100 percent it’s as close as you can get to that.  Whenever you’re in the fight I could tell something was wrong but you have to put that to the back of your mind. It’s just like if a gameplan fails you don’t explode right there you just say ‘All right that happened how I modify my gameplan"

The gameplan now for Hendricks is rehabbing his arm. He’s 2 ½ weeks into his rehab and expects to be in his arm brace for another four weeks. His goal is to be back at 100 percent by the end of June or early July.

Then he’ll get on with defending his championship. Monday was a rarity for Hendricks as he brought his title belt to Globe Life Park for the first pitch. He said he’s only had it about three times since winning the championship and it normally in a safe at his house.

He knows the title makes him a target and he’s ready for those who want to come after him, including Rory MacDonald, who has said he wants a fight with Hendricks.

"He’s fighting somebody else right now,"€ Hendricks said. "That’s the beauty of being the champion is that everybody wants a piece of me. Let them fight it out. That’s where I’ve wanted to the whole time. I want people to come after me. I want the target. For people to call me it out is where I want to be"