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Johny Hendricks open to seeking help for weight: ‘I don’t know everything, obviously’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Johny Hendricks' attempts to tackle weight cutting without the help of a nutritionist led to a roller-coaster year he never expected.

The former UFC welterweight champion cut ties with Mike Dolce prior to UFC 185, but still used many of Dolce's methods in the lead-up to the March fight. The result was a weight cut that Hendricks' called one of the easiest of his career, plus a dominant showing against Matt Brown that vaulted Hendricks back into the title conversation.

Hendricks attempted to replicate that success earlier this month at UFC 192, only he tweaked a winning formula, switching his diet from fish and chicken, which Dolce preferred, to one heavy on venison. The results were disastrous. Hendricks dropped out of his fight with Tyron Woodley the day before weigh-ins and was hospitalized with an intestinal blockage and kidney stone.

The fallout from the embarrassing incident caused Hendricks to reflect on the decisions that led him to this point, and the 32-year-old admitted Monday on The MMA Hour that he would be willing to seek help if it meant putting his nightmarish weights cuts behind him once and for all.

"I'm always open for it, because I don't know everything, obviously," Hendricks said. "I thought I improved on that, but I failed. And it's because of my missed calculations. But I want to get back to being the best, where I don't have to ... worry about the weight cut."

Hendricks was scheduled to visit the doctor this week to treat his kidney stone, which at the time of the interview was still lodged in his right side. After that, his future is murky.

Hendricks publicly floated the idea of moving up to middleweight following his hospitalization. He backed off of that idea in the days after, but UFC President Dana White agreed that the divisional shift may be necessary, saying of Hendricks, "he needs to figure this thing out. I consider him a (1)85-pounder right now. I do not want to see him at 170 again."

For his part, Hendricks is hesitant to commit to the move without first giving welterweight one more good try. He plans to do a "mini weight cut" down to 180 pounds at the end of the month, and if successful, he hopes the UFC will allow him to stay at the weight class he once reigned over as champion.

"If I hit 180 and everything is doing great, then that's whenever I talk to Dana and Lorenzo (Fertitta)," Hendricks said. "That's when I call them and say, ‘hey, let's book a fight,' because I want to get back in there. I want to train, I want to fight, and I just want to make sure that it's going to be healthy for my body.

"And let's say that I hit 180 and I go through the same thing? Well, then I understand, ‘okay, is my body sort of tired of making 170?' [The answer to] that, I don't know just yet, until I do this mini weight cut and see how my body reacts. Hopefully it reacts good, because then I can continue my welterweight run."

Hendricks said that he has spoken to the UFC about his plan, and although he isn't sure if officials are "100-percent keen on it," the chance to stay at welterweight is something he feels strongly about.

Standing just 5'9" with a 69-inch reach, Hendricks would be massively outsized in the middleweight division.

By comparison, 185-pound champion Chris Weidman is a goliath 6'2" with a 78-inch reach, while upcoming title challenger Luke Rockhold is a similarly large 6'3" with a 77-inch reach.

"I want to make sure that I make the smartest decisions in this moment, if that makes sense," Hendricks said. "I believe that, yeah, I could do good at 185 pounds. But what am I going to do better at? What am I going to be better at? Guys I'm giving up like two or three inches against, and in some cases might be giving up six? Or giving up six inches of reach every fight?

"That's the thing. That's what I want to make sure that at this point, yeah, I've struggled (with the weight), but I've also made it easy. And that's the [hard part], is that I made it so easy for the Matt Brown fight. Going off that, that's exactly how I'm going to start running my camps, exactly how I did that fight. I way I did the chicken and the salmon and alternated with them, and all of this other stuff, there's a lot of other things I tried to improve on this weight cut and it failed."

Hendricks went on to acknowledge that while a move up in weight wouldn't be his personal preference, it could carry a certain allure if it meant an end to his struggles.

"Hey, there's part of me that likes that," Hendricks said, "because I wouldn't have to make 170 again. But for me as a competitor, that's a lot harder road. One day I'd like to venture out on that road, but at this time, I still want to consider myself a welterweight because there's so much more I can do. There's so much better I can be. And that's what I really want to focus on right now."