Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks is retiring from mixed martial arts following a 10-year professional career.
Hendricks announced his decision on MMAjunkie Radio Wednesday. “Big Rigg” last appeared at UFC 217 on Nov. 4, when he suffered a second-round technical knockout loss to Paulo Henrique Costa. Hendricks had lost five of his last six appearances dating back to February 2016. Hendricks said he’s going to focus on coaching high school wrestling for the immediate future.
“I’m done. I’m retiring. I’m getting out of the MMA world,” Hendricks told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’ve been thinking about this long and hard for a while. I’m going to get back to my roots. I’m going to start coaching at All Saints [Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas]. I coached a little bit of high school last year, but I’m going to make the move over to All Saints and start doing those things.”
A two-time NCAA national champion wrestler at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks made a name for himself by winning 11 of his first 12 bouts in the Octagon. That earned him a welterweight title shot against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 167, and although Hendricks lost a split verdict in that November 2013 contest, many observers thought he deserved the nod.
St. Pierre would vacate the belt shortly thereafter to take an indefinite leave, and Hendricks claimed 170-pound gold with a thrilling decision triumph over Robbie Lawler at UFC 171. He lost the belt in a rematch with Lawler at UFC 181, dropping another contentious split decision. From there, Hendricks wasn’t quite the same, posting a 2-7 record while moving between welterweight and middleweight.
The 34-year-old claims that only the most lucrative offer could lure him out of retirement.
“Even if you threw Georges St-Pierre at me, the world knows (I beat him),” 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.”
Family also played a major role in his decision. During the months since his last UFC appearance, Hendricks began to notice that he didn’t need MMA the way he used to.
“One of the things that’s nice is being home the last seven months, spending time with the kids, not worrying about what I needed to do,” Hendricks said. “I looked at my wife and said, ‘Do we really want to do this. I know I’m the one who has to do it, but do we want to do it? Do we want to go through the grind that I used to do, be gone for long periods of time, put my family second, do those kinds of things?’ Right now, I can’t really say that.
“I made this decision two weeks ago, but I prayed about it and wanted to make sure I was going to be OK with it.”