February 17, 2017

UFC Fight Night 105: Johny Hendricks Looks For A Fresh Start At 185

By Adam Martin

This Sunday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, former UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks will make the move up to middleweight for the first time in his career when he takes on Hector Lombard. Following three straight losses in the welterweight division -- against Neil Magny, Kelvin Gastelum, and Stephen Thompson -- and after missing weight for the Magny and Gastelum fights, Hendricks was forced to make the move up to 185 lbs. His body simply will not allow him to cut all the way down to 170 lbs anymore.

It's been an incredible fall from grace for Hendricks, who defeated Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 three years ago to win the vacant welterweight title following Georges St-Pierre's retirement. Hendricks rematched Lawler in his first title defense at UFC 181 and lost a controversial split decision many thought he should have won, but a dominant win over Matt Brown at UFC 185 put him right back into title contention.

Unfortunately for Hendricks, who had already battled weight-cutting issues in the Lawler fights (though he ultimately did make weight for both bouts), a fight against Tyron Woodley set for UFC 192 was cancelled at the last minute when Hendricks suffered a kidney stone attack during his weight cut and was rushed to the hospital. He did make weight against Thompson, but clearly he was drained in the fight, suffering his only career loss by TKO. And then he obviously came in overweight against Magny and Gastelum.

For his 185-pound debut, Hendricks will take on Hector Lombard. This is an interesting fight because Lombard is another fighter who had a hard time making the welterweight limit, and as an older fighter he was forced to move back up to middleweight. Hendricks and Lombard are also two of the shortest middleweights in the UFC, with each man standing 5'9. In that sense, it's a fair matchup between guys who both need a win to save their UFC careers, but in the case of Hendricks in particular, it might not be the right matchup to get him ready for the other middleweights in the UFC, who are on average around 6 feet tall. But first Hendricks needs to win the fight against Lombard.

It wasn't that long ago that Johny Hendricks was the top welterweight on the planet, but he hasn't looked anything like it in his last few fights. Perhaps this move to 185 pounds, where he won't be killing his body cutting weight, will be just what the doctor ordered. The fight with Lombard will be a good test to see how he stacks up against a veteran middleweight, and if Hendricks wins, it will put him in a good position to fight a top-15 middleweight next. Although he might be too short for the division, with his wrestling ability and KO power he remains an intriguing new addition to a stacked UFC middleweight division.

UFC Fight Night 105: Lewis vs. Browne (formerly UFC Fight Night 105: Dos Santos vs. Struve 2) takes place February 19, 2017 at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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