Johny Hendricks got the job done Saturday night, but not without overcoming a bit of adversity.
Following his hard-fought split decision victory over Josh Koscheck in the co-main event of UFC on Fox 3, Hendricks revealed that he fought off two illnesses leading up to the contest at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
“I guess I had God on my side. I had a tough training camp. These last two weeks, I was battling some mean stuff, but my coaches kept me positive,” Hendricks told Fox Sports after his win. “I had bronchitis, and then mono -- two great ones to have three weeks before the fight, right?”
Despite taking ill, Hendricks said he never seriously considered pulling out of the fight. Though he would walk away with a razor-thin judges’ decision, Hendricks did not have an easy night, first receiving an accidental eye poke and then absorbing a barrage of punches in the first round.
“I did get poked in the eye and was seeing double,” Hendricks said. “I had to close one of my eyes to see where he was at, but that’s fighting. I just stayed strong and stayed focused on what I needed to do.”
Hendricks battled back to close out round one and fought Koscheck tooth-and-nail for an additional 10 minutes. Koscheck managed to secure a takedown to close out the final frame, but Hendricks nonetheless received the split nod. The win marked the fourth consecutive win for the two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion, who bested Koscheck’s longtime American Kickboxing Academy teammate Jon Fitch in December.
“Both [Koscheck and Fitch] are tough fighters,” said Hendricks. “I feel blessed to be in same Octagon as them. Now I just have to go home and be prepared for a title shot. I fought hard tonight and got my hand raised.”
The defeat snapped a two-fight winning streak for Koscheck. Though disappointed in the result, the former welterweight title challenger did not bemoan the judges’ verdict post-fight.
“I’m not one to ever bitch about decisions,” said Koscheck. “I thought I won the first and third [rounds], but apparently the judges saw it differently. It was a good fight, and I felt like I ended the fight on top. It is what it is, and I live to fight another day.”
The victory now secure, Hendricks may look at future opportunities to move up the welterweight ladder. The Oklahoma State alumnus has won eight of his nine Octagon outings, with only a 2010 decision defeat to Rick Story marring his professional record. Though he could be on the verge of challenging for the 170-pound championship, Hendricks took a patient approach when discussing his next step.
“Whenever I heal up, we’ll talk and go from there. Right now, a lot of things are going through my mind,” said Hendricks. “I need to get away and go spend time with my family before I do anything. Right now all I want to do is go home and spend time with my wife.”