June 27, 2017

Johny Hendricks: UFC Fight Night 112 Loss Puts UFC Future In Question

By Adam Martin

Johny Hendricks' return to his old stomping ground in Oklahoma City couldn't have gone any worse.

Hendricks fought Tim Boetsch in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 112, which took place Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC, but despite entering the bout as a heavy favorite to get his hand raised, Hendricks was quickly dispatched in the first round by the bigger Boetsch,
and was quickly knocked out by a head kick and punches. The result of the bout could not have gone any worse for Hendricks, but even before the fight, things did not go according to plan for the former UFC Welterweight Champion in his return to his home state.

The first misstep happened at the weigh-ins, when Hendricks came in at 188 lbs for a 185-pound contest. Remember, Hendricks was forced to move up from welterweight to middleweight after struggling to make 170 lbs on numerous occasions. After making weight in his middleweight debut victory over Hector Lombard, missing weight against Boetsch means it's the third time in his last four fights for Hendricks, to go along with prior offenses in losses to Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny. Missing weight is bad, but it's even worse when you lose, and this latest TKO loss to Boetsch puts Hendricks' UFC future in doubt.

At one point in his career, Hendricks held an enviable 10-1 record, and wins over guys like Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck, and Martin Kampmann earned him a title shot against Georges St-Pierre. Many observers even thought he should have beaten GSP at UFC 167. A win over Robbie Lawler for the vacant title at UFC 171 was the height of Hendricks' career, but since then it's been all downhill for the former champ, as Hendricks is 2-5 with two knockout losses in his last five fights while looking bad as well. And he doesn't even have a weight class, as not only can he not make 170 anymore, but it looks like he can't even make 185.

You have to wonder what the UFC thinks about all of this, and if Hendricks is even worth the headache of keeping him around on the roster anymore with all of these losses and failed weight cuts. Hendricks was once an exciting fighter, but these days he's either getting knocked out or occasionally eking out ugly decisions. He's simply not the same fighter he was when he was champion. He is a shell of his former self, and you have to wonder if it's just the fact he's getting older, or the damage has caught up to him, or the weight cuts have hurt his body, or if USADA has changed him, or a combination of some or all of them. No one knows for sure why Hendricks' downfall has come so swiftly, but if you're the UFC, it's a legitimate question of whether to keep him on the roster or cut him, because he's making a lot of money to do a whole lot of nothing these days.

In some ways, Hendricks' career mirrors that of Anthony Johnson. Johnson was once a feared welterweight prospect in the UFC but failed weight cuts forced him to move up to 185, where he also failed and was then cut by the UFC. But that's where the comparison ends, as Hendricks is nowhere near the size of Johnson and has no chance of moving up to 205 ever. It's either 185 or bust for Hendricks, and if he can't make middleweight anymore, he should seriously contemplate retirement because these weight cuts are clearly taking a toll on his body.

There was a time not that long ago when Hendricks was one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and clearly the best welterweight. His downfall has come swift and sudden, and all these losses and bad weight cuts are adding up to a brutal run for the former champion. It's clear 170 is in the rear-view mirror, and now it looks like his future at 185 is in doubt as well. Hendricks will have to make a decision about his career now, but the UFC might make it for him by letting him go.

UFC Fight Night 112: Chiesa vs. Lee took place June 25, 2017 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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