Johny Hendricks via UFC.com
Johny Hendricks scored his second knockout victory in three fights at UFC 154 against Martin Kampmann. And while the finish times were different between the Kampmann and Fitch knockouts, the rest was extremely similar. The same punch caught both fighters, they both fell in similar fashion, they even landed on the canvas in nearly the exact same spot. The finish was impressive, and should put Hendricks next in line for a shot at current champion Georges St-Pierre. We caught up with Hendricks to talk about the fight, time off, and his epic bear.
How’s things going today?
They’re going good. I got home on Sunday – all I did was sleep because I didn’t get much sleep Saturday night. We had to fly out at 9:40 in the morning. And then Monday, spending time with the family, just really… I’ve done everything with my girl, so this is actually the first time I’ve broken away, and I’m about to go shoot my guns.
When we last spoke, you were about to taper off for your fight against Martin Kampmann, and you said, “If you don’t put him out, he isn’t down.” That quote was very telling, as you not only put him down, you put him out. A little bit of foreshadowing on your part, maybe?
You know, here’s the thing. I knew – I believed in my power. And, more or less, I know that no matter how tough the guy is, or how anything the person is, I’m starting to believe in myself. I’ve been saying this for a while, now. It’s just something… My confidence is growing with each fight, and, more or less, not even in the fights – the camps… The camps I’m having are just getting better, each one of them are getting better, and I feel like I’m improving. And so I go in there… I’m not worried about anything because I’m telling myself, “Hey, no matter what happens, in about five fights I’m going to be at my peak.” So from here until those five or six fights… Because whenever I hit about 20 fights, I think I’m gonna be at my peak. And that’s what I can tell myself: hey, that’s when you’re going to be at your peak. My learning curve is slowing down, but I still feel like I’m developing. And whenever you hit 20 fights, you’re sort of going to be peaked out, and you’re gonna learn, but you’re not gonna learn as fast or as much. So that’s why I’m going into these fights going hey, enjoy the moment. Enjoy the fight. There’s nothing better than waking up knowing I’m about to fight in front of millions of people. Who else gets to say that they get paid to beat somebody up – and in front of millions of people? And not only that but a fraction of them actually like you. How awesome is it that to have a job that every day you get to beat people up, and people want to watch you do it. I really am blessed. I believe I have one of the greatest jobs in the world.
It was immediately put out how eerily similar your knockout over Jon Fitch was to Martin Kampmann, almost laying them out in the exact same spot. Have you seen the side-by-side comparison of the two?
No I have not. And the reason why is because just like the Jon Fitch fight, man, I’m over it. I gave myself a couple days to celebrate it. Now, I’m already on the drawing board for another fight. I’m sitting here thinking who… I’m hoping I get to fight GSP, so I’ve already talked to Mark Layman about game planning. He won’t let me in the gym, and he won’t answer my phone calls because he doesn’t want me to think about it, but I’m already thinking about – that’s what I want, so that’s what I’m thinking about. So I’m already game-planning for my next fight. There’s nothing against my other opponents. It’s just that everybody I’ve fought has brought me to this moment. And I know that if I get too caught up on the past, then I’ll start thinking about the past. And I’ve been caught in that situation before, and I hated it and the result of it. So now I told myself this is exactly like college to me. If you do something good, guess what? Celebrate it for a day or two and then forget about it. The past’s the past, let’s move to the future.
There is a lot of hype around a possible super-fight between GSP and Anderson Silva. If the UFC comes to you and says that you are getting the next title shot against GSP, but have to wait for the super-fight, would you sit on the sidelines or take another fight while waiting?
I’m willing to wait. I’ve beaten the top guys in my division now. That’s three in a row. Now it’s just time to kick back and get a little bit better. Because breaks for me aren’t the best thing in the world, because I like fighting, but I also know that sometimes breaks are good because I get to actually develop as a fighter. I feel like I improved so much in between the last fight and this fight and that was 6 months between fights. So I had 3 months – I had 2 weeks to actually kick back and relax and then I started actually really focusing on my training. And whenever that happened, I felt like I was really able to learn because I didn’t’ have anything on my plate, I wasn’t worried about anything, all I knew that I had to do was work out. And I felt myself developing a little bit quicker – and eager to learn again. Because sometimes you get into a routine where you find somebody to fight, you prepare for them, and you don’t really do too much for yourself. And that’s one thing that I was sort of grateful to have was a little bit of time off where I could improve my own skills. And I went and trained with Marcelo Garcia for my Jiu Jitsu, and, man, the next thing I know – just training with him for a week I felt my game step up to another level. And it was awesome. So I plan to continue doing that. So some time off sometimes is always the best thing.
So this rumor regarding a fight between you and Nick Diaz is just a rumor?
I remember an interview you did about your famous—epic, actually—beard and how it serves a purpose to remind you that you are in fight mode and that you shave it off after your fight. Is that still the case, or are you keeping the beard this time?
You know, I actually did a video saying I shaved it, and I said the next time you guys see me with a beard is whenever I fight GSP. Like I said, it’s just nice to have stuff like that because there’s always an end. The beard, whenever it’s shaved, I completely feel relaxed and a nonchalant-type attitude. Because I’m so wound up so tight for those 3 months… For training and training and training and trying to be good on one night, and then as soon as I shave it, man, all of the sudden I go on a crash. Like I’ve been going to bed at like 8 or 9 o’clock and waking up at 8 o’clock in the morning. Just, my body’s been dumping constantly because of… I know my fight’s over with. There’s just so much build-up and then it is just time to relax and my body recovers.
I know you said you didn’t care who won or lost the main event, but were you able to watch it, and did you have any thoughts on the fight as a whole?
Yes, I watched it. It was an awesome fight. I though tit was a great fight. You know, Georges came back. He was strong, just as I was hoping that he would be. Carlos Condit also was stronger than I was… I knew that he could do good on his feet, but he also did very well – I knew that he had good jiu jitsu, but I didn’t know how well GSP could nullify his jiu jitsu. But Carlos Condit also did an excellent job. Both those guys would be tough fights. And that’s what I’m looking at. I just want a fight – I didn’t care who won it, I just wanted a fight – a bout. Either one of those — I was like, man, that’s a good fight for both of them.
Any sponsors or people you want to thank?
I want to give a shout out to a couple people. Of course, Echo, of course they’re one of my big-time sponsors. Also, I got Bass Pro this time which is pretty sweet. I got TRX, Wildwings, MRG, and also I got a video game sponsor as well.