Johny Hendricks believes he should be wearing the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight belt as he enjoys the holidays with his family in Texas.
He’s just not going to spend all of his time consumed with thoughts of what could have been.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said of the judges who awarded Georges St. Pierre a split decision in the main event of UFC 167 on Nov. 16 at the MGM Grand. “The only thing I can control now is how I move forward.”
Hendricks’ ability to move on was helped when he was promised a rematch by UFC president Dana White, who expressed outrage at the scoring. St. Pierre initially said he would be taking time off to deal with personal issues, but White indicated a rematch would be announced soon after a brief conversation with the longtime champion.
Hendricks is dealing with a slight knee injury and swollen hands, but said he would be ready to go as soon as March.
The knee injury might have played a key role in the loss. Hendricks said he absorbed a leg kick from St. Pierre and the knee began to swell between the fourth and fifth rounds. Hendricks said he thought he had won three rounds and feared pushing off the knee could do further damage or even make him lose the fight, so he stayed conservative in the fifth round. St. Pierre won the round on all three scorecards, enabling him to escape with the victory.
There were other issues. Hendricks lost his mouthpiece during the second round just after rocking St. Pierre with two good left hands. The break gave the champion a few extra seconds to recover. Hendricks said he never had worked with the mouthpiece and was saving it for the fight.
He also thought his hand wraps weren’t thick enough and now says he should have spoken up to get the issue corrected. Perhaps that was the reason for the swelling.
“Those things are on me,” Hendricks said. “I should have been more vocal about the wraps. I should have practiced with (the mouthpiece), and I did not. I don’t know that it would have been any different.
“Everything happens for a reason. The good lord is going to take care of me. I get a rematch. I was limited of what I could produce. I was limiting myself, and 70 percent of the world thinks I beat Georges St. Pierre. I was hindered in that fight and I beat him.
“Guess what’s going to happen next time when I come in 100 percent having learned some things I could have done differently in this fight. I’m going to be the next welterweight champion. That’s why I don’t have any regrets. Everything went great except for the final decision.”
Hendricks said the judges won’t be needed in the rematch. He said he will knock out St. Pierre and prove definitively he is the world’s best 170-pound fighter.
“I’m going to fine-tune my skills, and I’m going to get better to the point where they can’t do that again,’” he said. “I want to get to the point where I finish the fight and nobody can take it away from me.”
■ TUF FINALE — The UFC returns to Las Vegas with “The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale” card Saturday at Mandalay Bay.
The card will feature the championship fights of the men’s and women’s bantamweight tournaments for the current season of the reality show, as well as a meeting between lightweight contenders Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard.
The men’s title fight will pit Chris Holdsworth against David Grant. The women’s title bout has yet to be announced, as the last of the semifinal fights will air on Wednesday’s final episode. Julianna Pena will fight either Raquel Pennington or Jessica Rakoczy.
Saturday’s main card will air live on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) at 7 p.m.
■ ASKREN MEETS WITH UFC BRASS — White said last week the organization had no interest in signing free agent Ben Askren, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion who wrestled in the 2008 Olympics.
But Askren reportedly met with UFC executives Monday at the company’s Las Vegas headquarters. Askren and White did not return messages.
The unbeaten Askren was the Bellator welterweight champion, but the sides couldn’t agree on a new deal when his contract with the organization expired.
■ TUFF-N-UFF CARD — The Las Vegas-based amateur organization will host an event at 7 p.m. Friday at the Orleans.
In the main event of the 12-fight card, unbeaten Marina Shafir, a close friend and training partner of UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey, will look for her fourth straight first-round armbar win to start her amateur career when she fights Tabby Patterson.
The event also will feature a tribute to Barry Meyer, the founder and president of the organization who died last month at age 42.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.