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UFC Fight Night 77's Johnny Case details costly split from Alliance MMA: 'It was a big gut punch'

Johnny Case moved to Power MMA & Fitness in Arizona, home of Light Heavyweight contender Ryan Bader, for his upcoming tilt on the UFC Fight Night 77 "Prelims" against Yan Cabral ... and for the foreseeable future.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Emotions have been running high in the mixed martial arts (MMA) world.

We've seen Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and his nasty divorce conclude with former teacher and mentor at Team Alpha Male (TAM), Urijah Faber, while the promotion seemingly low-blowed one-half of the former UFC Dublin co-main event, Ben Rothwell, last month.

Then, after the Lightweight headliner between Dustin Poirier and Joseph Duffy never came to be, one man volunteered to tangle with "The Diamond" on a super short notice, even though he had been preparing for a different fight in two weeks' time.

"When I heard Duffy was injured, I was thinking, 'Let's save this card and let's go in there and make money. Let's put on a show.' It sounded like he had other plans and wasn't interested in fighting anyone other than Duffy," rising Lightweight Johnny Case told

"Hollywood" (21-4) jumped at the chance of facing the No. 13-ranked Poirier in Ireland, exactly two weeks before his own tilt versus Nova Uniao standout Yan Cabral (12-1) on the UFC Fight Night 77 "Prelims," which takes place this weekend (Sat., Nov. 7, 2015) in the latter's backyard of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

It was a gamble for Case, as much as it was for the rejuvenated American Top Team (ATT) combatant, who signed a five-fight contract extension (via FOX Sports) with UFC in August and moved into a new home with his two young boys right across the street from his base camp at Power MMA & Fitness in Gilbert, Arizona.

"The summer has been good, man. I couldn't be more happier with the location and it's a real nice spot," Case said. "The toughest obstacle has just been not having the ocean [laughs]. That was kind of the best part about San Diego."

The lifelong wrestler used to call southern California home, preparing for his last three Octagon appearances at Alliance MMA, previous home of friends and teammates Myles Jury and Michael Chandler.

Although the Iowa native Case, a winner of 11 straight fights, breezed through three UFC opponents between 2014-15, he was outraged at the policies and several events that took place throughout his abbreviated stay at Alliance and shipped out this past summer with Jury and Chandler.

"Basically, from the first fight camp I had, where I was getting ready to fight in Japan, it was just one thing after another at that camp. I kept getting -- I got cut, [then] I couldn't go live. I got my teeth knocked out and had to sit out a little bit longer. I got sick and I got staph infection," Case said. "Now here I am -- one fight in the UFC -- writing the gym a check for more money than I'd ever seen in my life. For them, to take 10 percent of that was a big punch to the gut."

Finances are of the utmost concern to Case, and a number of his fellow fighters, especially when you consider the 26-year-old "made six times the amount [of money] of what Reebok" was going to pay in what was just his third fight.

Despite not being "happy" with UFC's oft-critcized partnership with apparel giant Reebok, Case is in great spirits ahead of his showdown with a premier Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt like Cabral. Case and Jury both have bouts on the horizon and have seen a lot of their issues resolved since arriving at Power.

"I can't say enough good things about this gym, from the coaches to everybody. Nobody is more important than the next person there," Case said. "We have team meetings here every month. If we feel something is lacking here or we're not getting attention in this department we need, it's put on the table and we discuss it and come up with solutions. That's the way it should be done."

While matters have been handled behind closed doors for Case and his collective at the Arizona gym, the same can't be said for "The Viper." Dillashaw has been barred from re-entering his former Sac-Town facility after moving to "Mile High City" to train with Elevation Fight Team and head coach Duane Ludwig.

Having went through his own departure from a high-profile MMA camp, Case can look at the situation from both sides.

"I think TJ's just doing what's best for him in his eyes. Sometimes you've got to make changes, whether it hurts or not. I think he's just looking out for him," Case said, adding. "I definitely see Urijah's point and loyalty is big with me. If I show you loyalty and you do me dirty, then that's it. You're cut off and you're automatically the enemy."

For more on the complete UFC Fight Night 77: "Belfort vs. Henderson 3" card click here.

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