‘I didn’t feel like it was the moment to celebrate’ – Cory Hendricks recalls brutal KO at ACB 77
American MMA fighter Cory Hendricks, who brutally knocked out Russia’s Konstantin Erokhin early in their fight at ACB 77 in Moscow last weekend, told RT Sport about his reserved reaction to the victory.
The 29-year-old former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ reality TV series participant, who now fights in Russian MMA promotion Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB), made a big statement last weekend, knocking out another fighter with UFC experience, 34-year-old Erokhin, in spectacular fashion just 30 seconds into their fight.
Right after Hendricks’ pinpoint head kick sent Erokhin onto the canvas in the early seconds of their fight, he jumped on his opponent to proceed with a vicious ground and pound, knocking the Russian unconscious. Referee Herb Dean waved the fight off and immediately called for medical assistance.
However, it took several minutes to revive the downed Erokhin, who was able to stand straight with support, but was not responsive for some time, and did not react to doctors and team members who were trying to sit him down on a chair and give him an oxygen mask.
Hendricks, who seemed to be more concerned about his opponent’s health than celebrating his victory, calmly looked on as the Russian received the necessary help.
Talking to RT Sport over the phone a few days after his trip to Russia, Hendricks talked about what was going through his mind after the brutal finish he delivered, as well as his impressions of visiting the Russian capital for the first time.
RT: First of all, congratulations on a spectacular victory last weekend. Your knockout came just 30 seconds into the first round. Could you take us through it? When did you realize that you could execute that roundhouse kick and finish your opponent?
Cory Hendricks: Well, I didn’t actually expect that kick to land as well as it did. I thought it will hit his arms, but it went through, and I saw him falling backwards. So I realized that he was hurt. So I needed to jump on him quickly, he is a tough guy and so I wanted to take advantage, I wanted to finish him off right there and not to give him a chance to recover.
RT: Your reaction to the victory gained you a lot of respect among ACB fans. It looked like you were more concerned about your opponent’s health than celebrating your victory. What was going through your mind right after Herb Dean waved that fight off?
CH: I was happy to get the win, obviously, but I also felt like it was kind of a late stoppage, and he took more punches than needed, you know. I thought that the fight was done before Herb stepped in. But, it’s not my call to make. I was worried that he was hurt real bad, I was just hoping he is OK. Obviously we are going there to hurt each other, but I didn’t want for anything permanent to come out of it. I am glad that the medical crew was there right away to take care of him.
RT: You seem to always be very relaxed and don’t display much emotion, much like many Russian fighters. Fedor Emelianenko would probably be the best example. Is that how you are in your everyday life as well?
CH: Yes, pretty much.
RT: Did people in Moscow think you were Russian, and try to speak to you in Russian?
CH: Yeah, I’ve been told that I look like a Russian before, and yeah there were some people in Moscow who would just come to me and start speaking Russian, like I was Russian, but I told them: ‘Nah, I only speak English, sorry.’
RT: You’re back home in the US now. How does it feel to make such a big change from snowy Moscow to a much warmer place in the States?
CH: Yes, I’m home now in Washington State. And obviously it’s great to be home. I live and train in Las Vegas, Nevada, but I’m from Washington originally and that’s where my family lives. But it was also cool to visit and see Moscow, it was a pretty cool city, it was a great opportunity to go there and check it out. People were really nice to us, we visited Red Square, walked there for a while, that was pretty cool, just driving from the hotel to the venue I felt like it was a long way away so we could see more of this city, there were many cool buildings and cool architecture, and it is a really cool city to see. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Moscow, so I just went there with an open mind. I didn’t like the travel though, it was like 16 hours of flying, so it’s not a fun trip to make. Apart from that, everything was good, but getting there and getting back is no fun.
RT: It was your second fight under the ACB banner. How do you like working with this organization?
CH: They’re great. I like ACB, it’s a great promotion. They’ve got a lot of really talented fighters over there. And they put on some of the best fights I’ve ever seen. They’ve got really well-arranged shows. And I think soon they’re going to get a lot of respect from the MMA community for how good they are. I was very grateful to be a part of the ACB 77 card, it was a great opportunity for me, to go there, to see Moscow, to face a tough opponent. So, I’m really proud of being a part of it.
RT: Your knockout was also recognized by the ACB, and they awarded you some bonus money. Does it motivate you to do the same in your future fights?
CH: Well, ideally, I’m looking to finish all my fights in the first 30 seconds. I’m not banking on it happening, but that’s what I’m shooting for. But right now I’m just looking to improve myself and just keep working my way up, that’s all I’m focusing on. I want to become better and better, and just see how high I can go.
RT: There’s not that much information about you available online, except of course for the fact that you took part in The Ultimate Fighter show. Could you tell us a little bit about your background? We know that you played basketball…
CH: Yeah, I played basketball all my life, then I played for a community college. But then, when I was done with that, I just had a lot of free time on my hands and had nothing to do with that. I met some guys who trained MMA, I started training with them, and I liked that. I kept going, and wanted to see how far I can go with it. But I didn’t really have a martial arts background and I started exactly with MMA. I was 20, may be 21 back when I started practicing it. I would be glad if I started it sooner, but that’s how it happened for me. I wasn’t a big fan of MMA before, I mean, I’ve seen it, I liked watching it but I wasn’t a hardcore fan or anything like that. There are no particular fighters that I liked. I just like different things from different guys, you know, no specific preferences. But if you ask, for me, Jon Jones is the best pound-for-pound fighter.
RT: What do you like doing in your everyday life except for training? Do you have any hobbies?
CH: I like reading, I do some wood working a little bit. I like hiking, I like being outside, just spending time with my friends and family.
by Denis Geyko for RT Sport