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Johny Hendricks pondered retirement following brutal UFC 181 weight cut

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Esther Lin

Heading into his UFC 181 welterweight title defense, rumors abounded that then-champion Johny Hendricks was going through a brutal weight cut.

The gossip seemed confirmed when Hendricks appeared gaunt getting on the scale for the fight's weigh-in, and further reinforced when he seemed a step slow in losing his title to Robbie Lawler in a tight split decision.

On Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, we found out just how bad Hendricks' weight cut went: In the fight's aftermath, Hendricks pondered retirement rather than going through it again.

"It was either [change his approach] or retire," Hendricks said. "That's how bad that weight cut was."

Hendricks, long since conditioned to weight cutting during an amateur wrestling career which culminated in an NCAA championship, had made a habit of letting his weight go as high as 218 in between fights. But the former champ now understands his approach started working against him.

"It sucks because the last couple fights have been where it's been questionable" Hendricks said. "And it's been half my fault. I can't do that weight cut. I can't balloon up to 218 and think that [Mike] Dolce can get me down to weight. That's where I'm taking the responsibility. I'm walking around at '95, and I'm getting my muscle mass back, I'm looking to get my body weight back. ... It will also be better for me when I fight, because I'll have my power back, my steam, and you feel like you're hitting hard again. That makes me happy. It will help with my wrestling or anything."

While he's obviously large for the welterweight division, in Hendricks' mind, there are still too many things left to accomplish at 170 pounds before he seriously entertains the notion of a move up to middleweight.

"I wanted to do things at welterweight, Hendricks said. "That belt is waiting for me, and I want to get that thing back, and if I do the right thing, I might the right sacrifices, good Lord willing I'll get it back."

Either way, with a fresh approach, Hendricks plans on never enduring a weight cut like the one at UFC 181.

"Let's just say it won't ever happen again," Hendricks said. "If it does, than yes, i'll have to be 185 or be done. I don't think my body can handle another one like that."