MONTREAL -- It’s easy to spot Johny Hendricks among the fighters who are scheduled to compete Saturday night at Bell Centre: He’s the one with the biggest smile on his face.
Hendricks has exuded nothing but happiness in the days leading into his UFC 154 welterweight title eliminator against Martin Kampmann. And it isn’t nervous energy.
Hendricks is primed for battle, mentally and physically. He points to the six months that have passed since his split-decision win over Josh Koscheck in May.
“My weight is 10 pounds over [the 170-pound limit],” Hendricks told ESPN.com on Thursday. “That’s the best I’ve been for any fight. I’m just excited.
“Fighting every four months would be perfect. But sometimes it’s good to step away. That’s what I did this last fight and I came back hungrier and stronger to fight again. I needed to step away and be a family man, spend time with the girls. It made me that more excited to fight again."
Wrestling remains Hendricks’ base discipline, but his striking skills -- punching in particular -- have gotten much attention in the past year. The focus has centered on Hendricks’ powerful left hand. But during preparation for this fight against Kampmann he expanded his striking range.
It’s a major reason Hendricks believes his striking game is on par with Kampmann’s.
“My power gives me [an edge] on the feet,” Hendricks said. “No matter what, he knows he can’t eat too many of my left hands.
“Also, my left hand now creates other shots. If he’s defending my left hand or even my hook, my hook has gotten stronger, lead uppercut has gotten stronger.
“That’s what I focused on these past several months. Everybody’s looking for this thing [left hand], but now it might be this thing [right hand] that knocks you out.”
Hendricks said he hurt a few training partners during training camp with a variety of punches. And he did the damage wearing 8-ounce boxing gloves -- while his sparring partners donned headgear. Oh, and by the way, Hendricks points out that the damage was done with his right hand.
Despite the improvements in his stand-up game, Hendricks expects his wrestling to play a major role during the fight.
“My stand-up is much better,” Hendricks said. “It might just open up my wrestling.
“It’s been six months since I last stepped in the Octagon; a lot has changed. I can’t wait.”