Five minutes into a conversation with country boy Johny Hendricks, one of the happiest UFC fighters you could ever meet, and it’s abundantly clear that the native Oklahoman’s entire life is One Big Playground. The one-punch knockout artist loves to fight, loves to hunt, loves to fish, loves spending time with his family, loves to play video games … and pretty much spends every waking hour indulging in one of the aforementioned. About the only deprivation the 29-year-old outdoorsman/pro athlete endures is at the dinner table, where for fight camps he must forgo his constant cravings for McDonald’s double cheeseburgers and fast food in general (a diet, he confided, that actually fueled him to win two NCAA wrestling titles a few years back).
Fresh off Hendricks’ stunning 46-second knockout of Martin Kampmann, a lot of fans are wondering “What’s next?” for the recently de-bearded standout, who has defied many people’s expectations with his rapid rise up the welterweight rankings. Will Hendricks (14-1) get a shot at 170-pound champ Georges St-Pierre, or will he instead have to wait for the much-discussed mega-fight between GSP and Anderson Silva that is still fantasy at this point? Hendricks doesn’t know the answer either, but he knows he won’t be getting back up to 218 pounds in-between fights as he did before the Josh Koscheck fight. When it comes to making weight, Hendricks is a Mike Dolce disciple. As someone who loads up on venison, hog meat and chicken – Hendricks is proof of how Dolce individually tailors each fighter’s diet plan to suit their body types and taste buds.
I eat a lot of venison, chicken, eggs, salads. I ate a lot of catfish growing up. During the summer we’d go fishing, then we’d have a fish fry or put our catch in the freezer and cook it up later. In summer time, I try to shoot a hog. Right now it’s deer hunting season; I shot a doe this morning.
THRILL OF THE GAME
I love hunting, being outdoors. It relaxes me. You don’t think about fights or anything else, just the hunt (and) “Are you gonna get game? Are you gonna pull the shot off?” After I pull the trigger, shoot the deer, I gut it and take it to a local processor. They cut it up for you, package it, and then I put it in my freezer. I usually get 30 or 40 pounds of meat from a doe; that will last me little over a month. I like that it’s very fresh and lean meat and not all the chemicals and preservatives you find in other meat.
EGGS WITH A PUNCH
I eat oatmeal on occasion, but usually I eat three scrambled eggs and I’ll add asparagus, onions, peppers, spinach and tomatoes.
In the off-season I eat so much that when I start training camp Dolce wants to shrink my stomach a little bit so the meals get smaller. He knows I tend to overeat … Dolce lets me eat bread up to a certain point, some pastas. But during camp we’ll mix some venison, asparagus, tomatoes, onions and peppers with quinoa.
THE YOUNGER YEARS
I ate healthy. I ate a lot of chicken, tacos and eggs growing up. But when I was in college at OSU (Oklahoma State University, me and (teammate) Muhammed Lawal, “King Mo”, would go lift weights all the time and eat fast food. I was eating fast food all the time – only red meat: Big Macs, double quarter-pounders, double cheeseburgers. I ate it all. I love it all! I was eating McDonald’s probably three to four times a day. I got really strong lifting and eating all that.
I got to where I was happy with it and could function well so I ate like that pretty much all the way through college. In college wrestling I might lose 12 pounds in a day, so once I got my weight down to 165 pounds I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted. I still stayed lean and performed.
MMA … A DIFFERENT ANIMAL
Now I really can’t eat like that because I have fights every three months and if I eat fast food all the time, and pack on too much, it’s hard to lose all that extra weight. But after a fight I usually treat myself to a week of eating whatever I want to. This past week I’ve been gorging a lot.
BIG BOY ON FIGHT DAY
I might get up to 218 pounds after a fight, so for the Koscheck fight I came in (fight day) at 200 pounds. But for the Kampmann fight I went into the Octagon about 190 pounds and felt a lot faster.
During camp I only drink two things: water and iced tea. I used to love sweet tea, but Dolce made me get off sweet tea. No sugar for me.
The Johny Hendricks Diet
Read on for the latest installment in UFC.com's weekly series of articles on proper nutrition from the biggest names in mixed martial arts...this week, Johny Hendricks