The UFC Welterweight Championship is there for the taking and Johny Hendricks is ready to take what rightfully belongs to him. Nearly four months ago, Hendricks was arguably robbed of the title after a controversial split decision was ruled in favor of his opponent, Georges St-Pierre, who vacated the belt when he opted to take some time off. However, that's all in the past.  Instead, the man nicknamed Bigg Rigg is looking forward and more specifically, his fight tonight against Robbie Lawler in the main event at UFC 171.  

In the days leading up to his match, we spoke with Hendricks about his training, his partnership with Reebok, his famous beard and what he would be interested in pursuing outside of mixed martial arts, like trying out for the Dallas Cowboys.  

Does your preparation change from fighter to fighter, or is it mostly the same thing?

It's the same thing. Yeah, there are different tweaks you gotta make, but the training is pretty much the same. I know what they're good at and I try to limit that, so you just prepare yourself and keep going. 

As you hit the home stretch, is there anything you try to build on these last couple of days?

At this point, you're not going to gain anything. You're just going to sit there and say you're prepared while getting ready to move on. 

Going on the training theme, you were recently in a video working out with the Reebok ZQuick. What made that the go-to shoe for you? 

People would be shocked to know that I'm a carefree guy. I don't try to take anything to heart. I just try to be a laid back person.

With MMA, everything is quickness. How quickly you can land a punch, dodge a punch and react, you know what I'm saying. And that's what the ZQuicks are. They're light and able to adapt to different terrain. I do a lot of training both on road, off road and cross country. They're modeled after a tire and they perform just like that. I'm able to have great traction on the treadmill, on the road, everywhere. And it's huge to know that I can have one shoe that can do it all. 

How did your partnership with Reebok come about?

After my fight with Carlos Condit in March 2013, it started off as a sponsorship but then we went out there and met the people. It's a family-oriented place. They treat me like family. Being with them is awesome. When it comes to pushing an organization like Reebok, I don't have to do much at all because they do such a good job themselves, given their reputation. 

How does it feel to be fighting for this Welterweight Title after the controversial split decision with Georges St-Pierre back in November?

It's very humbling that Dana White and the UFC wanted me to fight for the title again. Especially with the fight being in Dallas, which is three and a half hours from where I grew up and where I live now. It's awesome that a lot of people can go to my fight now. They don't have to take time off and instead, they can easily make the drive over.  

Last Friday, you spoke at SXSW on sports and social media


How was that? 

It was awesome. We use social media to benefit what we can do with our popularity and stuff like that. But it was also great to see how other people use it and what they think of social media as a whole. It was all a learning experience.

Is there something that people would be shocked to know about you? 

I might want to be a boxer one day. I would like to try out for the Dallas Cowboys...

People would be shocked to know that I'm a carefree guy. I don't try to take anything to heart. I just try to be a laid back person. 

Do you remember when was the last time you had to put that carefree mentality to use? 


One of the most recognizable things about you is the beard. However, you only like to grow it out during training camp. Is that correct?


Is there a reason behind it?

Five or six years ago, Marc Laimon told me that I grew a good beard and he sorta talked me into keeping it. Once that happened, it became a tradition. I grow a beard for every fight now and it reminds me that there is something I'm working towards. 

As a beard aficionado, albeit temporary, which athletes do you think have the best beards in sports? 

James Harden. He's got a pretty sick beard. Brian Wilson. Chris Davis, the last time I saw him, he had a pretty good one. Those are all the guys that come to mind right now. 

What are some other things outside of mixed martial arts that you would like to pursue?

I might want to be a boxer one day. I would like to try out for the Dallas Cowboys...

What position would you want to play?

Linebacker or free safety. 

Well, the Cowboys are looking for someone on the outside with DeMarcus Ware gone. 

Yeah, I can't do that right now, but at some point I'd definitely like to. [Laughs.]