Hendricks appeared stunned when Greg Alvarez of the combative sports division of the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation called his weight at 171.5.
"Yeah, it was [a surprise]," Hendricks told UFC broadcaster Joe Rogan after he stepped off the scale. "We'll see what happens."
Hendricks went back to his hotel to work out in an attempt to cut the remainder of the weight. When he returned, he made the weight at 170 pounds even, the same as Lawler, guaranteeing the fight would remain for the belt vacated in December by longtime champion Georges St-Pierre.
Hendricks had until 6:30 p.m. CT to make the mark, but he made it with a half-hour to spare.
The last time a contestant in a championship match in a UFC bout failed to make weight came on Feb. 3, 2007, when Travis Lutter couldn't make the 185-pound limit at UFC 67. His bout with Anderson Silva at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas became a non-title match.
Hendricks trained with noted conditioning coach Mike Dolce, who has been the UFC's key person in helping fighters make weight. Though Hendricks never had an issue in the past making weight, he weighs well over 200 pounds between fights and hired Dolce to help him cut weight safely for the title fight.
Hendricks seemed shocked when he got onto the scale and heard 171.5. Rogan was standing nearby and noticed the reaction.
"They thought they were OK," Rogan said. "He didn't even ask for a towel or anything."
Dolce said he believes the scale that Hendricks had been weighing himself on at a Dallas health club had been jostled while Hendricks was in the sauna and it was out of calibration.
Dolce said when Hendricks arrived at Gilley's, he and everyone on his team was confident he'd make weight.
"Some of the staff at the local gym here told us that while Johny was in the sauna, there were people jumping on and off the scale and they may have kicked it around a bit and it got out of calibration," Dolce said. "But Johny went back and worked up a sweat and he got the rest of it off with no problem."
Hendricks looked gaunt, even at 171.5, and Dolce said that is no surprise.
"He's a big man who weighs well over 200 pounds and it takes a Herculean effort to get him down to 170," Dolce said. "It wouldn't surprise me if you see him at middleweight some day."
Several fighters on the card had trouble making weight, but UFC president Dana White said there were no indications that Hendricks would be one of them. UFC site coordinator Burt Watson usually keeps close tabs on the fighters' weight during the week and reports any issues to White.
White said he was under the impression that Hendricks would make it. White said that Hendricks was shaking as he was on the scale, which could indicate his body was reacting to the weight cut.
"Nobody knew and even [Hendricks] looked shocked," White said. "Obviously Dolce was [shocked]. He was shaking so bad. I thought he was shaking because he was nervous with so many people there. I've seen it a million times.
"But he said he was shaking because he said he was cold. He said he was shivering. You start to get that lean and, boy, it gets rough. But this one surprised all of us."
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation