UFC 171 avoided a near catastrophe a week out from the event when Johny Hendricks reportedly injured his elbow in training.
The newly crowned welterweight champ revealed the hidden injury during Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour. According to Hendricks, the week-and-a-half old injury immediately flared back up in the first round of his title fight with Robbie Lawler after attempting to throw a hook.
“It’s my elbow,” Hendricks told Ariel Helwani. “It happened actually a week-and-a-half before, and it happened in the first round. Whenever I threw a hook, it just spazzed out. I don’t know what happened. I felt my arm pop. We’ll see what happens.”
Coming off a controversial decision loss to Georges St-Pierre, Hendricks entered the bout as a heavy favorite against fellow power-puncher Lawler. On paper, the fight was touted as a surefire bout of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, with Hendricks’ world-class wrestling being the great equalizer.
The initial presumption was half right.
Lawler’s ability to stuff the majority of Hendricks’ takedowns was easily the most surprising element of the fight. With takedowns hardly a factor, both fighters took to the center of the Octagon to exchange cracking blows to each other’s craniums.
It was a gut-wrenching, back-and-forth battle that came down to the waning minutes in the final round. Hendricks was able to secure takedown out of desperation in the end to lock up the victory.
Is Johny Hendricks taking away from Robbie Lawler's performance by mentioning the elbow injury?
While Hendricks credits Lawler’s toughness, he can’t shake the belief that takedowns would have been a bigger factor, if not for his injured elbow.
“It was whenever I tried for takedowns, I could not get it,” Hendricks explained, when asked if pain was an issue during the fight.
The injury was so significant that Hendricks’ camp even floated around the idea of dropping out of the fight.
“We thought about it, but that world championship means a lot more,” Hendricks said.
During the interview, Hendricks said he was on his way to a doctor to get his elbow checked out. If everything checks out OK, he is hoping to take a little time off and return in either September or October for his first title defense.
The UFC has yet to reveal the next No. 1 contender.