Johny Hendricks shocked himself at UFC 141. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Johny Hendricks believed he could beat Jon Fitch at UFC 141, but he wasn’t expecting to do it in 12 seconds.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Hendricks told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.” “I trained for four months for this fight. Three months of actual hard, hard training. I beat myself up through the training camp. Whenever one punch ended it, I was sort of in shock.”
Just seconds into the bout, Hendricks drilled Fitch with a left hand. The American Kickboxing Academy-trained fighter had never been stopped in the UFC, but he dropped after the punch and referee Steve Mazzagatti quickly intervened.
“I knew I had that kind of power,” Hendricks said. “I just didn’t ever believe in myself. That fight, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to hit somebody as hard as I can and see what happens.’ Sure enough, I did it and he fell.”
Hendricks attacked when Fitch dropped, but initially he thought he’d hesitated to follow up.
“In my mind,” he said, “it felt like it was three seconds before I threw that second punch because when he fell, I was like, ‘Did he really just fall?’ All these things are going through my mind. ‘This can’t be happening,’ and then all of a sudden I was like, ‘I’ve got to hit him again.’”
The stoppage looked like a good call as a stunned Fitch grappled briefly with Mazzagatti. However, there has been some criticism that the referee intervened prematurely. Hendricks disagrees.
“If you watch [Fitch’s] arms, they fall over to the side,” Hendricks said. “He goes completely limp after that second shot. If it’s me and I’m in that situation, get him off me as soon as possible. But then again, those guys that are jumping on those message boards, I tell them to jump in the ring with me. Let me hit them like that. Let them fall and let me get two, maybe three more shots in, and you [get] a broken jaw. You can’t talk. That’s the best-case scenario. Worst-case scenario, you’re more brain dead. That’s really what you’re looking at.”
In Hendricks’ view, hitting Fitch more would have been dangerous and unnecessary. He has nothing but respect for his opponent, who in losing to Hendricks suffered just his second defeat in the Octagon.
“He’s a tough dude,” Hendricks said. “He’s one of the best. I’ve watched that guy for a long time. Before I even got into it, I knew who Jon Fitch was. To finally be able to fight somebody like that has been pretty sweet. As soon as I found out, I was like, ‘I’m really going to get to go with somebody like that? Somebody who has that kind of name recognition? And is that good of a fighter?’ I was super ecstatic about it because not only am I finally getting to where I need to be, but also I have a chance to reach my goals.”
After beating Fitch, Hendricks is one step closer to a title shot. He hasn’t thought much about what’s next, but he plans to as soon as he’s had the chance to fully digest the biggest win of his career.
“Definitely the world’s changing for me,” Hendricks said. “All I want to do is spend time with my family and friends, and next week I’ll sit down with my manager and be like, ‘What do we want? What are we looking for? What do we want to get out of it?’”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:31:27).