We got a chance to catch up with the Happy Beard Guy himself, Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks. As always, he was psyched to hear from us and more than happy to give us a little interview for the new site. Currently training for his number one contender match against Martin Kampmann on November 17th, we thought we would give his mind a break from the fight and mix it up with some lifestyle questions… Until we broke down and got his thoughts on the upcoming bout. Check out the interview below!
Ecko: What kind of music do you listen to when you train? Is there a style that really gets you in the zone?
Johny: I like country music. I listen to it in my car, when I’m training, when I’m running. It’s pretty much all I do. That hardcore stuff, It gets abusive and gruesome. I’m a nice guy. Country is more laid back music, some of the R&B and pop stuff even is a little to loud.
Ecko: We’ve heard its hard to get earbuds in with cauliflower ear?
Johny: Yes it is (laughs). Most of ‘em have like 3 layers of thickness for the bud and they will pop right out. What happened was once was I kept wrestling without headgear and got it bad enough that I actually almost closed my ear canal. Now when I buy ear buds I have to get one side small and one side medium. It gets real annoying.
Ecko: So you’re into video games? What is your favorite and why?
Johny: I love call of duty. Modern warfare 1 and 2, didn’t play 3 cause I would lose my life to it. That’s how addicting it is and how much i play (that game). Started playing WOW (world of warcraft) because I can take time off. You can leave WOW for a while and still reconnect with your group. If I take time off of call of duty it will mess with my stats. Plus I got tired of the little kids cussing me out. Those little 12 year olds, man. They’re more brutal than the grown ups. All you can do is mute ‘em; but right when you get back to the main page they’re cursing in your ear.
Ecko: What is the last movie that you saw? What did you think?
Johny: I took my daughter to see Brave in 3D, she’s going to be 3 in October. Actually a really good movie. Good for both of us. If your kid can sit through a movie it shows how much better it is.
Ecko: With Vegas being the MMA capital of the world, what is your favorite place to eat when you’re there?
Johny: You know, I love this place “Texas de Brazil”. I’ve met the manager out there he’s real cool. They have all the best food. Best salads. Best steaks. Sirloin wrapped in bacon, grilled in all different ways. By far, Texas De Brazil.
Ecko: What happens following a winning match for you? How do you celebrate?
Johny: I only celebrate the night of. Kristen from Ecko came last time and brought sandwiches. I just like to hang out with people I know, have a few beers. Hang out with my kids, hug ‘em and kiss ‘em. I go to bed sore and tired knowing that I still haven’t reached my goal. Nothing has mattered enough to celebrate. The only thing I want is to get to that belt. “Who cares” is my attitude. I’m one step closer each time, that’s what really matters. If I have the choice the next tuesday I’ll be training again unless my trainer won’t let me and kick me out. I got kicked out for 3 weeks last time. They want me to take time to rest and regroup and in all that time I’m going insane. Let me spar, do jui jitzu, something.
Ecko: Do you identify at all with your unofficial nickname “The Happy Beard Guy”?
Johny: Yeah, I do. I like that nickname because it IS who I am. I do have a beard (laughs) and I do love what I do. I love waking up everyday and fighting for a living. I can’t think of a better life in my mind its why I love fights more than anything. The only thing thats certain is your going to make weight and step into that octogon. You never know, he could throw an elbow or an armbar, you never know. Every second, every moment, in a fight is so important and you never know what’s going to happen. Have you ever felt so passionate about something but don’t know how to say it? That’s how I feel about fighting. As soon as I get in that ring I can be that second me. The me that wants to be in the ring full-time. The one that doesn’t fear anything and wants to enjoy life.
Ecko: Tell us about Bow fishing.
Johny: Bow fishing is awesome. It cost like 300 dollars to set up. Once set up you can walk the banks or take a boat. All you do is you have a flashlight and you have a bow, you shoot and you get to pull it right back whether you caught something or not. Its something that, for me, is my escape. Going out there and not worrying about anything, you know, except for “Am i gonna hit this fish am I not going to hit it?. NOthing else matters but the task at hand. I can forget about fighting and training. Its a nice mind relaxer.
Ecko: What kind of car do you drive?
Johny: I drive an F350. I put a ranch-hand bumper, its like a grill that replaces your bumper so you can hit stuff and it does nothing to the bumper. I have one on the front and back. I’m sort of built like a tank. It’s perfect.
Ecko: What’s the dumbest money you’ve ever spent?
Johny: Oh man, I’ve probably done a lot of that (laughs). For one, lets see here… I’ve spent a lot. I have a ping pong table i dont even use, just thought I’d want one. Also, gambling. The black jack tables kill me. I actually like fighting outside of Vegas cause I’ll actually come back with money in my pocket.
Ecko: Three words to describe yourself outside of the ring?
Johny: Laid-back, easy-going, enjoyment. I have a friend, I always hang out with at the hunting show. He’ll ask me what I want to eat. I say “you pick”. He’ll say something like “How do you get anything done? You don’t have an opinion about anything, you’re just like whatever”. I’m just easy going like that, man. I let my wife decide everything.
Ecko: Three words to describe yourself inside of the ring?
Johny: Fearless, Excited, Enjoyment.
Ecko: So, I do have to ask. How do you see your fight with Martin Kampmann turning out?
Johny: I think it’ll be exciting. He’s a tough opponent. Good striking. Good clinch. His ju jitzu isn’t bad at all. He’s a well rounded fighter. I see myself with a win. I don’t need to say anything bad, but I feel like I’ve competed with the best so far at the 170 class and I’m sort of excited to test my skills agianst somebody like that that’s well rounded. If I win this match, I’ve got a title shot. My whole career is based around it. In my mind, nobody cares second, third, fourth or fifth. They don’t care. The great ones that people remember… You could ask who fought for the belt but people will more easily be able to remember who was holding it and that’s it.
Ecko: What would winning the welterweight championship belt mean to you?
Johny: I’m not doing it to be remembered. I’m doing it cause I set a goal and I want to reach it. It’s not about fame, it’s not about money. It’s about when I started this years ago I told
myself and everyone around me that I could be a UFC champion. Did I think I could? Maybe not. But I knew I’d do anything to get there.
Ecko: When can we expect you back in NYC to hang at the Ecko offices?
Johny: Well the UFC match is November 17th, I’m gonna try and get back to train with Marcello Garcia one more time at least. I’ll let you guys know!