Johny Hendricks has decided to retire from mixed martial arts.
At the age of 34, the former UFC welterweight champion has elected to call it a day on his fighting career, making the announcement on MMAJunkie radio earlier today. According to Hendricks, the decision was made after spending time with his family, and not feeling motivated to get back into a fighting camp.
“I’m done, I’m retiring, I’m getting out of the MMA world,” Hendricks said. “I’ve been thinking about this long and hard for a while, and I’m going to get back to my roots, and I’m going to start coaching at All Saints [School]. I coached a little high school last year, at Oakridge, but I’m making the move over to All Saints, I’m going to start coaching there, doing those things.
“One of the things that’s nice is that these last set of months, being home, spending time with the kids, not worrying about myself and what I need to do. I was walking around at 200-pounds for three weeks, just living the life [and I thought], ‘Do we really want to do this?’ I know that I’m the one who has to do it, but do we want to do this? Do we want to go through the grind that I used to do? Be gone for long periods of time, put my family second, and do those kind of things, and right now I can’t. I’ve made this decision about two weeks ago, but I prayed about it, and I wanted to make sure I was going to be okay with it.”
Hendricks leaves the sport with a record of 18-8. While he may have gone 1-4 in his last five, fans may remember his initial burst at welterweight, and a captivating brace of title fights against Robbie Lawler. Following that success, however, Hendricks began to struggle making the welterweight limit of 170-pounds, and subsequently moved to middleweight for a short stint.
He was last seen in a losing effort to Paulo Costa at UFC 217 in November.
With retirement, Hendricks leaves a lifetime of competition behind him, pointing to his coaching role as a way to scratch that itch without the rigorous commitments of being an active fighter.
“I have a big release now,” Hendricks said of retirement. “I’ve competed since I was 5-years old. I’ve been a competitor, I’ve been cutting weight, I’ve been hard training since I was, what, 13-years old? Maybe sooner than that, but let’s just put high school in there. Since I was 14-years old. So for 20-years of my life I’ve been at the grind. For mental, physical, trying to keep yourself in tip top shape.
“I’m training some of the guys at my gym, and I look at them, and I go, ‘You know what? I’m going to miss the sparring and stuff like that, but since I’m training guys I still get to spar twice a month. So I still get sparring and I still get to work hands, and I still get to do things I enjoy, it’s like the best of both worlds.”
Often when a fighter announces their intention of walking away from the sport, there is a certain amount of skepticism. On many occasions, a once retired athlete suddenly misses the thrill of the contest and does a U-turn. According to Hendricks, however, that won’t be the case with him.
“I could still get in there, because I’m still working out, I could still do it,” Hendricks said. “But whenever I told [my wife] that whenever I do retirement, I’m done. There’s no coming back like a lot of other people do. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to stay away. I was talking to a fan, and whenever I was talking to them, it just put it into perspective what I accomplished, and everything that I wanted to do. Meaning not only hitting where I hit, but also what he said. [He said], ‘I’ve met many famous people, and you’re the nicest one so far’. And still today that’s what I try to achieve. That means more to me than the belt and everything I’ve accomplished.”
“… Even if you threw Georges St-Pierre at me, the world knows [I won],” Hendricks said. “Realistically, I’m satisfied unless they say, ‘Johny, here’s a million-dollar payday. Come fight this dude.’ You can’t turn that down. That would be stupid. But everything I set my mind to, I achieved it. That’s the gist of what I’m feeling at this moment and what I’ve been feeling the last month.
“… I’ll call the UFC and tell them I’m done. I’ll call USADA and tell them I’m done. It’s never a honeymoon phase with me. My goal is to get (high school) wrestlers into national champions. I want to get wrestlers better than I was, better than I could ever be. … For me to do that, I have to put the past in the past and start moving forward.”