Will fight for food: A conversation with Strikeforce middleweight Tony Johnson


Strikeforce middleweight Tony Johnson doesn't have any trouble knocking people out, even if it has to be done on short notice.

With just three days to prepare, Johnson stepped up to face Marcus Gaines at the War Gods event on September 21 at the Salinas Sports Complex in Salinas California and stopped the more experienced Gaines in just 25 seconds.

As Johnson tells MMAmania.com (www.MMAmania.com), taking the fight was his only option, regardless of the time frame, because it had the potential to give him unprecedented exposure.

"We fought in Selinas, California in the War Gods Show. It's a local show here, but they are doing a reality show with it. It's airing on Comcast. It seems to be a big deal here in California."

It's not uncommon for fighters to be injured in training, and an unfortunate mishap at the American Kickboxing Academy left Gaines original opponent taking an unscheduled nap in the middle of training camp.

"One of our partners Nate Moore was getting ready to fight {Gaines} and in training he actually suffered a knockout with Trevor Prangley so they needed someone to fill in at the last second. I took the fight on about three days notice."

Taking a fight with only three days notice can present enormous obstacles for a fighter and often times leave them unprepared for their opponent. In addition to being physically unprepared, trying to formulate a gameplan for a fighter you know little about can be a tremendous challenge.

"I had no clue what Marcus was about. I knew he was a seasoned fighter. He had like 15 fights. Just went out there, 25 seconds, knocked him out! Got in and got out real quick. So it was pretty nice."

Not only did Johnson get by unscathed, he also got the opportunity to get himself some airtime on the reality show they were filming during the event.

And if that reality show doesn't do him justice, there is another one that seems to be pretty successful at elevating fighters to mainstream status.

"I tried out for the reality show for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and so hopefully that will go through and I'll get the nod on that."

But Johnson knows he can't start looking ahead. Before he makes it to the big time, he'll have to find a way to get past the talented Eric Lawson this Friday at Strikeforce "Destruction" in San Jose.

Lawson has won all three of his Strikeforce fights via rear naked choke.

"I'm looking forward to this Eric Lawson fight. He's 7-2 and he's a real strong wrestler. He's really made a name for himself in Strikeforce. This will be a good fight. If I can look impressive and if I can get a good win here I'd like to make Strikforce my home - if the TUF thing doesn't work out. But I'm really looking forward to the reality show."

For Johnson there is no turning back now. Success means not only fame and possibly fortune, but a one-way ticket out of his mobile home and into the grocery store.

"I gotta eat! I work at LA Boxing. I'm a trainer. But that's it, a part time gig for some extra money. I live in an RV right now to be honest with you, in a parking lot. Every day I wake up in that RV in the parking lot, I know it's time for me to go to work and after the fight is over I need to get paid and get the hell out of that RV."

On November 21, he'll finally have his chance. As far as a prediction, he doesn't offer a win or loss, but does promise one thing:

"It is going to be a hell of a fight."

For more on Tony, check out his Web site here and MySpace page here.

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