Former UFC Champion Johnny Hendricks Has Had a Brutal Start to Life Without USADA… His Bare Knuckle Boxing Debut Ended in Him Getting Knocked Out…

It’s hard to imagine, but once upon a time, Johnny Hendricks was on top of the world. The man who many people believe beat Georges St. Pierre, became the UFC welterweight champion after beating Robbie Lawlor. He then dropped the title in a rematch and lost 6 of his last 8 UFC fights, and missed weight three times.

Many people believe that USADA had a major impact on Hendricks’ career. It’s definitely true that he never looked the same physically after the anti-doping agency partnered with the UFC. He finally parted ways with the world’s premier MMA promotion this year, following yet another brutal battering, this time by rising star Paulo Costa back in 2017.

Now he’s with the up-and-coming professional bare-knuckle boxing promotion BareKnuckle FC. This exciting new group have taken the combat sports world by storm. While they’ll probably never become mainstream – which they’re not aiming for – they’ve definitely exploited a niche in the market, and Hendricks was arguably their biggest ever signing.

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Lights Out

Hendricks was clearly hoping that the stripped back intensity of bare-knuckle boxing, with its savage but simple rules, would suit him absolutely perfect. He was meant to fight Brennan Ward in Caspar, Wyoming, but his opponent withdrew at the last minute, to be replaced by Dakota Cochrane, a one-fight Ultimate Fighter series veteran.

Being a former UFC champion, ‘Big Rigg’ was naturally the heavy favourite going into this one. However, MMA and bare-knuckle boxing are two very different games, as Hendricks found out when he was smashed to the ground in the second round of the fight. It’s a terrible start to life in BKB for the Oklahoma native.

The Return

While on paper Hendricks is the biggest ever signing BareKnuckle FC have ever made, there was definitely more excitement – and worry – around the fact that former UFC fan-favorite Chris Leben was making his return to combat sports action.

The UFC veteran allegedly suffered a life-threatening abnormality to the left ventricle of his heart, yet has somehow contrived to get back to full health. Like the absolute madman that he is, he came back out of retirement and put a battering on fellow former UFC vet Phil Baroni, winning in the first round.

Screenshot: Twitter.

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It’s clear that the raw intensity of BareKnuckle FC is clicking with fans who want to watch sheer violence minus the WWE antics of contemporary MMA. It will be fascinating to see if Burmese bare-knuckle boxing (Lethwei) ever takes off in the Western world because that’s really the pinnacle of striking arts. The full results from a night of action can be seen below.

Main card:

Chris Leben def. Phil Baroni via TKO.

Dakota Cochrane def. Johny Hendricks via KO.

Joey Angelo def. Julian Lane via split decision.

Christina Marks via. Jasmine Clarkson via TKO.

Robbie Peralta vs. Jay Cucciniello via unanimous decision

Leon Mynhardt def. Nick Gonzalez via TKO.

Josh Neer def. Mike Alderete via TKO.

Joey Munoz def. Marcelo Alfaya via majority decision.

Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Cory Simpson via TKO.

Undercard:

Juan Torres def. C.J. Leveque via TKO.

Jeff Chiffens def. Fred Pierce via TKO.

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