Team Claudia’s Cory Hendricks finally decided to withdraw from his The Ultimate Fighter 23 semifinals due to a neck injury that didn’t get any better. His decision resulted in a defeated fighter gaining new life in the competition.
“I’ve decided that I’m not comfortable fighting anymore. I knew from pretty early on that it wasn’t probably the smartest decision to fight, but it was what I wanted to do, but I don’t want to have a longterm neck injury from this,” said Hendricks about his decision to remove himself from the competition.
Hendricks was cleared by a doctor to continue on in the competition and was advised that he had a pinched nerve, but the pain, lack of training, and diminished strength in his arm was too much. Partially based on the advice of his coach, women’s strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha, Hendricks decided that fighting in the semifinals would only harm his career.
“It’s disappointing because I came here to fight and to win the show. To say that I’m just not going to fight is tough, but I feel it’s the smart decision,” said Hendricks.
“I’m at peace with the decision,” he said. “I hope I still get a shot in the UFC, but that’s not up to me. It’s out of my hands.”
Hendricks’ misfortune resulted in a second-chance opportunity for Team Joanna’s Khalil Rountree. UFC president Dana White decided to bring Rountree back.
“I’m going to bring back Khalil, and give Khalil the opportunity to fight,” said White. “I was really impressed with Khalil in his elimination fight. I love the way this guy stands up. I love his kicks to the body. I really like his style.”
The semifinal match-ups will remain intact except for Rountree stepping in for Hendricks against Josh Stansbury.
Hendricks decision to pull out of the competition will not haunt him. He’ll compete on the season’s finale on July 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“I’ll give him the opportunity to fight again in the finale against somebody when he recovers,” said the UFC president.
“He deserves it,” stated Gadelha.