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Johny Hendricks announces retirement from MMA

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Johny Hendricks
Johny Hendricks
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Johny Hendricks became the second former UFC champion to retire this week.

Two days after light heavyweight great Rashad Evans announced that he’s hanging up the gloves, one-time welterweight king Johny Hendricks told MMAjunkie Radio that he is ending his 11-year professional MMA career.

The 34-year-old Oklahoma native, a two-time NCAA Division-I wrestling champion, is planning to focus on coaching high school wrestling.

“I’m done. I’m retiring,” Hendricks said, “I am getting out of the MMA world. I’ve been thinking about this long and hard for a while. I’m gonna get back to my roots and I’m going to start coaching at All Saints. I coached a little bit of high school last year at Oak Ridge, but I’m making the move over to All Saints. I’m going to start coaching there, start doing those kinds of things.

“One of the things that’s nice is these last seven months, being home, spending time with the kids, not worrying about myself, what I need to do,” Hendricks added. “I was walking around at 200 for three weeks, I was just living the life, I go, ‘Do we really want to do this?’ I know that I’m more happy to do it, but do we want to do this? Do we want to go through the grind that I used to do. Be gone for long periods of time, put my family second and do those kinds of things? Right now I can’t say that.”

Hendricks says he made the decision about two weeks ago, but wanted to take time to figure out if it was the right thing to do before going public. He credited his wife with helping him to make the call.

As far as Hendricks is concerned, now that he’s uttered the word “retirement,” he’s done for good and has no plans of coming back barring a massive payday being floated in his direction. He’s content to train and work with the next generation of wrestlers and fighters.

“For 20 years of my life, I’ve been at the grind of mental, physical, trying to keep yourself in tip-top shape, and you know what, what I’m doing right now is I’m training some of the guys at my gym and I’m gonna miss sparring and stuff like that,” Hendricks said. “But since I’m training guys, I spar with them twice a month, so I still get sparring, I still get to work hands, I still get to do things that I enjoy. It’s like the best of both worlds for me.”

In 26 pro MMA bouts, Hendricks compiled an 18-8 record, finishing with five losses in his last six fights. His last few appearances were at 185 pounds, most recently suffering a second-round TKO loss to Paulo Costa at UFC 217, but in his prime Hendricks was an elite name in the welterweight division.

After recording lightning-fast knockouts of contenders Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, and taking decisions over Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit, Hendricks challenged Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight championship at UFC 167 on Nov. 16, 2013. He would go on to lose a narrow split decision to “GSP,” but after St-Pierre went on a self-imposed hiatus from the sport, Hendricks received a second chance at a world title.

Four months later at UFC 171, Hendricks defeated Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision to claim the vacant UFC welterweight championship. He would drop a split nod and the belt to Lawler in their rematch at UFC 181.

Even with a world title on his resume, Hendricks is most proud of being able to keep a level head even as he ascended to the top of the sport.

“I was talking to a fan on Sunday and when I was talking to him, it put it into perspective what I’ve accomplished and everything that I wanted to do,” Hendricks said. “Not only hitting where I hit, but also what he said, he’s like, ‘You know what? I’ve met many famous people and you’re the nicest one I’ve met so far.’

“And still today, that’s what I’ve tried to achieve and I think that means more to me than the belt and everything I’ve accomplished.”