What a few years it's been for Johny Hendricks.
Since losing his belt to Robbie Lawler in a narrow split-decision loss in December 2014, the former UFC welterweight champion has lost two out of his past three fights and is currently coming off back-to-back losses. During this time, Hendricks has also had issues making the 170-pound weight limit at welterweight, suffering the embarrassment of pulling out of a fight with Tyron Woodley in October 2015. Then, earlier this year, he weighed in a quarter of a pound over for his fight with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 200.
Taking one guy at a time
Having been through the ups and downs, Hendricks now has a new outlook on his career and will be taking every fight as if it's his last.
"I'm to the point that my wife might even say, I win this fight, and she says, 'Johny, I don't like you being gone. I'd love for you be home more,' and I say, 'All right, baby. I'm going to do it,'" Hendricks told Submission Radio.
"I literally don't care what's next. I don't care about anything. I'm literally at the point in my career where I am taking it one fight [at a time]. Nothing matters after December 30. Right now, December 30 is the only thing on my radar, nothing else. Nothing else in this world matters except for this guy. And that's really what I took to heart and that's what I'm doing."
Facing Neil Magny
That "guy" is Neil Magny, who Hendricks faces at UFC 207 on December 30. Despite having come unstuck to similar stylistic fighters recently, Hendricks believes he's learned from his mistakes, and he expects to rectify them against Magny next month.
"I fought Carlos Condit, you know, he's a tall guy," Hendricks said. "I've fought some other guys who are tall and even Stephen Thompson. Whenever I fought him, like I said, the first minute was going my way. But as soon as I got into my mindset that I was going to stand in the middle, 'You come fight me,' I can't have that.
"I'm Neil Magny, I sort of follow the game plan that Stephen Thompson did--use your range, use your distance, and try to get me flustered. So guess what? What did I do the first minute with Stephen Thompson? I used angles, I used angles, I kept moving. It was hard for me, don't get me wrong. You're going to get punched, but nothing landed cleanly because I was constantly moving.
"That's what I have to get back to. I have to sit there and say, 'All right, here's what I have to do.' I'm training two different ways, because Magny does like to come forward, he does like to put pressure on you. Now if that's the case, I think it's going to be a great fight, because I've fought taller guys, I've been able to hurt taller guys, and I'm OK with that."
Figuring out the formula to defeat Magny
Having been put to the sword by Thompson in his last bout, Hendricks believes he's worked out the winning formula to pursue against Magny.
"You get guys who are going to do that, that are going to run, that are going to sit there and use their length and fight a style where you get flustered, you start over-analyzing things, and you stay still," Hendricks said. "So, if I'm Magny, I look at that and I say, that's what I'm going to try. I'm going to try to keep him at bay, make him where he has to analyses this and that. And so for me, I'm thinking, all right, I use my footwork, I use my quickness, I use my explosiveness. That's how I beat Neil Magny."
Going back to old ways
Having finished multiple opponents on the road to his first title run, Hendricks believes that's the only thing that will get him back in the mix and make people start taking notice that he's back to his best.
"I see myself winning. I'm going back to the old ways," Hendricks said. "I'm going to try and start finishing people. I'm going to let my left hand go, and that's really what I'm looking at. I want to go out there and I want people to fear my hands again, and that's what I'm going to do."
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