Johny Hendricks appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani this week to explain what happened with his disastrous weight cut into UFC 192 earlier this month. The former UFC Welterweight Champion was hospitalized before weigh-ins due to an intestinal blockage and kidney stones, and he says his diet wound up being to blame.
“That’s what sucks more than anything, is that you work so hard to showcase what you have, and all of a sudden the diet that we were on backfires,” Hendricks said. “Which sucks, but I’ve learned after we did this, we did a lot of research, and I was eating a lot of deer meat and a lot of high-protein animal protein, which, that’s the leading cause of kidney stones and your intestines failing you. I had no idea, because I usually eat a lot of fish and a lot of chicken. I wanted to eat more protein, a lot of cleaner protein, so we focused more on that and it ended up backfiring. I think that if I would’ve eaten more chicken and salmon, I wouldn’t have been in this situation.
“There was a lot of signs that were telling me that I needed to change up my diet, and it wasn’t my weight,” he continued. “My weight, I hit 189 three weeks out of the fight. That’s the first time, and I have proof because one of my coaches was sitting there, they were all worried, ‘we don’t know where your weight’s at,’ they were sort of getting in my face. Like, ‘hey, let’s hit 189 then. I can do that.’ I was walking in at 193. I hit 189, and then that’s when everything sort of started to fall apart.
“We didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now looking back, I understand, because … I would only be able to do like a 10 or 20-minute workout with [my coach], then I’d have to take a break. After doing research, I find out that the way I did my high protein (diet) was absorbing all of my water, so therefore it was hurting me in the long run.”
Hendricks says he was trying to build off what he felt was an easy cut in his bout with Matt Brown earlier this year, but feels some of those minor changes wound up coming back to bite him.
“That was the easiest [weight cut] I’ve ever had,” Hendricks said of the Brown fight. “So I was like, okay, let’s build off of that. I’m always about building. I don’t like staying the same, which, on the diet aspect, I should’ve stayed the same. I should’ve changed a couple other things.
“It’s a learning curve. It sucks that I had to learn this way. I wish I still had a nutritionist, but it’s just one of those things, sometimes you’ve got to learn the hard way. And like I said, going from the Matt Brown fight to this one, I was like, ‘dude, this is going to be awesome. Another easy weight cut.’ I was getting my weight down the way I wanted to. I felt strong. I felt big. I was drinking plenty of fluids. I was like, ‘this is going to be a cakewalk.’ And in return, the time that I’m the most confident is when it goes the worst.”
Penick’s Analysis: It was a failure of Hendricks and his team to take some of these factors into account, or to not do enough research when changing up the diet to understand how it would affect him. At the level he’s at, it’s something that has to be done. There’s too much money on the line, and too much in his standing in the division at stake, for him to afford mistakes like this, and it’s an unfortunate learning experience for him. He’s saying he wants to do a test cut now to see if welterweight will be feasible in a healthy manner going forward. He needs to figure out what’s possible for him in short order so he can get himself back into the mix in one fashion or another.
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