Johny Hendricks could become the top welterweight title contender if he can get past Martin Kampmann on Nov. 17 at UFC 154.
Ahead of the matchup, Hendricks joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss his opponent, his striking and more.
On whether he’ll need to stay standing or take the fight to the ground to beat Kampmann: “It’s a little bit of both. It’s a little bit of maybe mixing it up, maybe just staying on the feet. The way that I see myself winning is not really having just one game plan. It’s going in there and trying to move freely, meaning keeping your mind open, adapting second by second. Whenever I’m out there, I don’t figure out anything but adapting moment by moment, punch by punch.”
On whether ring rust will be a factor: “I really don’t believe in that. When you train every day, it should be like you’re training for a fight. I don’t believe in it just because in every sport, you have to take a little bit of time off. Whenever you come back, as long as you practiced and as long as you trained like you’re training for a fight, that shouldn’t be a factor.”
On the improvements he’s made under striking coach Steven Wright: “You don’t have to have that world-renowned coach. What I believe in is, if you believe in who you’re with, if you trust them with everything that you’ve got, that’s what it takes.”
On what Wright has helped him with specifically: “He sharpened me up a little bit, made me where I could use more than just two things, punches and kicks. Now I’m able to use knees and stuff like that, which is always nice.”
On hot yoga and how it helps him: “Staying flexible and getting flexible are very important to me because the more flexible I get, it seems the stronger I get. The more that I can get my muscles to relax and to loosen up, I feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger and stronger and I’m not even lifting weights. Not only that, but also yoga helps keep me injury-free. Not only that, it can help your jiu-jitsu out. There’s a lot of things that yoga can translate into mixed martial arts. I started doing it, I love it, and I’m going to continue doing it.”
On his success in MMA: “I had never fought before in my life. I knew that I could be a good competitor, but I did not think that I could learn it as fast as I did.”
On his beard: “The goal is November 17. After November 17 it’s going to get shaved definitely because man, it’s been so hot down here. … The beard will definitely come off and I’ll be clean-shaved for at least a little bit.”
On whether people will recognize him without it: “My kids don’t. Probably most people wouldn’t just because whenever I shave, I look like I’m 18 years old. I look totally different.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:28:46).