Earlier this year, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight champion Johny Hendricks retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) after 10 years of competing as a professional, eight of those inside the Octagon.
For Johny, leaving the fight game was tough call, but says once United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) came along, he couldn’t compete at the level he was accustomed to, especially when it came to fighting at 170-pounds. That’s because USADA banned the use of IV’s, making it tough for he and plenty of other fighters to recover from a brutal cut down.
“I think USADA’s a great thing for the athletes, because it’s making people be clean, right? I took 26 tests, never failed one of the them. And that was in two years; I took 26 tests, never failed one of them. But what hurts the MMA aspect is that you can’t [use] IV bags,” Hendricks said on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting).
“So, I’m a bigger welterweight, I walk around at 210. I’ve done that since I was 19 years old, walk around at 210, and the IV always brought me back. It helped me get back to life, it helped me get to where I didn’t feel like I cut weight. And once USADA come into play, I had to start walking around like 190 at best, and as you can tell, I do carry a lot of weight ... and that’s sort of one reason why it just made it that much harder to make weight at 170.”
Indeed, for his fight against Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny, “Bigg Rigg” missed the welterweight mark, and eventually lost both contests. It’s important to note those two contests — as well as his loss to Stephen Thompson — were a year after USADA became UFC’s official drug testing administrator.
Prior to that, Hendricks enjoyed a great run at 170-pounds, knocking people out left and right including winning the division strap at UFC 171 by defeating Robbie Lawler. He almost came close to edging out Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167, as well. For Hendricks, though, he believes his lack of being able to use an IV certainly made it harder moving forward.
“I’m just not in the sport to just be in a sport. Does that make sense? I can do other things. If I’m going to do it, I want to be the best, and I know welterweight is my best. That’s where I should be,” he added. Johny eventually moved up to Middleweight due to the rigorous weight cut, going 1-2 while missing weight for one of those contests, bringing his total record to 1-5 post-USADA. Fighting at 185 pounds simply wasn’t Johny’s strong point, but cutting down to 170 was to hard to do with USADA involved.
“Now, like I’d said, I loved the fact of USADA and I loved that you do the random drug testing. I just wish that, they have a lot of people that show up at these meets — you want to do an IV, have them test you every day. I’m perfectly fine with that. You show up Monday, you get tested. Tuesday, you get tested. Wednesday, you get tested. Thursday, if you have any pee left, you can get tested on Thursday,’ he added.
“They’re there testing the IV bags, they’re doing everything like that, and I think you can bring back IVs, because I think there’s a lot of people that really used the IVs to help them fight better. Once you took that away, you started to see some of these guys, they either had to move up or they stayed at their normal weight and they didn’t perform like they used to.”
Johny’s last fight saw him get knocked out by Paulo Costa at UFC 217. A few months after announcing his retirement, “Bigg Rigg” revealed who would translation into the world of bare-knuckle brawling, as he is set to face off against former Bellator MMA star, Brennan Ward, for the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF) promotion in Casper, Wyoming.
Anyone think Johny makes some solid points regarding USADA’s unpopular IV rule?