Former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks has been cutting weight for his entire adult life whether it was wrestling or mixed martial arts so it came as a shock to him when his body shut down in the hours ahead of his last scheduled fight at UFC 192 in Houston.
Hendricks has been accused of allowing his diet to spiral out of control, which led to poor performances in the Octagon, but the adjustments he made before he was expected to face Tyron Woodley were supposed to make things better not worse.
He was wrong.
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"Nothing’s ever happened like this that’s what was so weird," Hendricks told FOX Sports after being forced off the UFC 192 fight card. "Even when I made weight at 157 (pounds), that’s what’s so weird. Even when I cut down from 205 to 157 and I was fatter then, but when I did that, it was rough, but I never once experienced anything like this where it’s like your body says ‘no it’s not going to happen’."
Instead of fighting Woodley on Saturday night, Hendricks spent most of Thursday and part of Friday in a Houston hospital being treated for a kidney stone and intestinal blockage.
He was yanked from the fight and Hendricks returned home with no paycheck, no victory and definitely not the title shot he hoped to earn by beating Woodley at UFC 192.
Looking back now, Hendricks knows the mistakes he made during training camp, which included a massive change to his meat intake ahead of the fight. He thought the changes would benefit him in a battle against an equally strong welterweight in Woodley, who is well known for his huge punching power.
"I’ve been cutting weight my whole life so I know how to cut weight. I’ve just never had anything like that happen before. We did find out and we have done some research — I wish I had done it before hand but hindsight is always 20/20 — we found out that I was eating a lot of deer meat because I love deer meet and it’s high in protein. I was really focusing on building a lot of muscle this fight, easier weight cuts.
"I can look back now and I see the signs and I didn’t at that point. Now looking back there were a lot of signs that something wasn’t right with my body before I ever showed up to the UFC."
Hendricks is back at home now but he’s not done dealing with the pain he felt during fight week in Houston. The former champion still hasn’t passed the kidney stone so there’s a constant ‘deep burn’ in his side as he waits for the jagged collection of minerals to finally make it’s way down his urinal tract.
He’s waking up everyday at around 197-pounds and finally hopes to start running again this week. Once Hendricks passes the kidney stone and his body is feeling good, he’s going to make another test run down to 180-pounds just to see how he feels and if it goes well, then his plan is to contact the UFC to see what’s next for him.
"I still want to give myself everything I can to be a welterweight," Hendricks said. "That’s why I’m doing the right things. That’s why I’ve been focusing on all this stuff because I want to get back to where I was.
"The thing that sucks worse than anything is when I fought Matt Brown, I was worried about it and I made 170. This one I was thinking this was going to be my best weight cut ever. I felt strong, I felt lean, and it sucks when you feel so confident going into a weight cut and it blows up."
Since the weight-cutting debacle happened, Hendricks has received a mountain of vitriol from fans about his diet and the mistakes he made in the lead up to the fight.
He absolutely understands why people are upset with him, but no amount of venomous rage launched in his direction will make Hendricks feel worse than he already does after spending three months getting ready for Woodley and then going home with nothing to show for it.
"It is rough and it does suck. You try to do things right and you try to learn and all of a sudden you think ‘I know nothing’," Hendricks said.
"Everyday I’ve got to wake up and know that my body’s hurting for nothing. I didn’t get the pleasure part of my job, I only got the suckiest part of it. The camp and the weight cut. People don’t get that, my favorite part is fighting. It’s not the training camp, it’s definitely not the weight cut, but getting in the Octagon is my favorite part of the job. I enjoy it. Now all of a sudden I don’t get to do that. It’s my fault and I know it."
Hendricks knows he has a lot to prove to the UFC and the fans when he returns to action in 2016, but more than anything else — he owes it to himself.
"Whenever I get back in there, I’m going to make sure it’s the best weight cut. It’s going to be even better than the Matt Brown fight. I do have to get some redemption, but it’s not for everybody else — it’s for me," Hendricks said.
"Because I’m the one who has to step on the scale and I know I just pissed away three months of training thinking that I was on the right track. That’s what really sucks. It took me three months to get ready for that fight and then to get nothing for that it. It beats you up but I sit here and think ‘how do I get past this and how do I come back stronger?’. That’s where my head is at right now."