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Bellator 148's Raphael Butler tells Tony Johnson 'don't be scared', calls out chump-crusher Bobby Lashley

Bellator MMA

Bellator 148: "Daley vs. Uhrich" is scheduled for Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., this Friday night (Jan. 29, 2016). The main event is a crucial Welterweight showdown between "Semtex" Paul Daley and "Stunner" Andy Uhrich.

One of the other key fights that night on Spike TV is a Heavyweight showdown between Tony Johnson (9-2) and boxer-turned MMA fighter Raphael Butler (9-1-1). Each man has something to prove ... and much to gain.

Johnson has a two-fight win streak going, including last Bellator win over former champion Alexander Volkov at Bellator 136. Two cards before that, Butler steered out of a two-fight skid (a draw followed by a loss) when he put Josh Diekmann in a standing guillotine choke.

In an entire Heavyweight division full of fighters angling to be the next champion, putting together a few wins in a row could be all it takes to get a title shot. And Butler recently spoke with about that golden opportunity.

Before getting to Johnson, though, Butler had a little something to say about Lorenzo Hood, who withdrew because of a knee injury on their previously-scheduled fight night. Butler finds it suspicious that Hood fought a few months later for Global Proving Ground.

"Yo, he had the fastest knee recovery ever. {*laughing*} He was actually scheduled to fight in October, too, he was supposed to fight a buddy of mine, but the whole card fell out. That dude has amazing knee recovery. I don't like to call another fighter scared, but when a situation like that occurs it's like, it's just like the famous words of Nick Diaz: 'Don't be scared homey!'"

Butler is convinced that he won't have another opponent fall out at the last minute this weekend. He's confident Johnson will show up ready to bang.

"(Johnson) always gets set up to fight people that are up-and-coming and then he ends up beating them, but he doesn't get that recognition, too. Somebody's always ducking that guy ... that shouldn't be. He's beaten some dudes he was supposed to lose to over and over again."

Case in point: Bellator 136, where Johnson beat Alexander Volkov in a fight many people expected the former champion to win. Will Johnson use takedowns and cage control against Butler? Not if he has anything to say about it.

"My game plan is to be me, man. I'm the type of person that I feel like as long as I do what I know I can do, there's nobody that's gonna be able to beat me. I have too much of that fighter's heart to lose a fight. I don't like to lose. I really despise losing. You hear that a lot from a lot of fighters but I really do hate losing. The skills that I have, the training that I have, that part of it should secure me this fight."

Bellator fighters also have to beware of his boxing credentials, too: 35-12-2 before he decided to train for MMA full-time. Twenty-eight knockouts in boxing led to another five in MMA. Indeed, Butler has that vaunted "one punch knockout" power.

"That's anybody that gets in there with me -- they gotta worry about the hands -- but they also have to worry that I KNOW they worry about the hands so I'm working on my other stuff too. Not only do they have to worry about the hands, they have to ask themselves 'What other things may he have learned?'"

In fact, Butler considers himself a "sponge" of MMA much like Tarec Saffiedine. He's incredibly eager to pick up new techniques before every single fight.

"I feel so greedy in this sport right now that I'm still learning every camp, I'm still picking up new stuff every camp. I don't have a set fight style in this game, because I don't know as much as I would like to know. In every fight, in every opponent that I have, they have to wonder what have I learned in training camp - that's the advantage."

With Butler's motivation and determination, he's got future Heavyweight wars in mind. He's not looking past Johnson by any means, but he's ready and willing to make a Bellator title run. And he knows just who stands in his way.

"Cheick Kongo already had his chance, he failed. Bobby Lashley, although he is an excellent wrestler, he hasn't fought anybody worth anything in Bellator quite yet. The best that he fought in Bellator was Dan Charles, and Dan Charles fought that fight on two weeks notice. I feel like Bobby Lashley has to fight a better pedigree of opponent before he can even talk about (the title)."

One has the feeling Mr. Lashley may not take that kindly, so Butler is ready to put his money where his mouth is if Lashley wants to take a fight against a "better pedigree" opponent like him.

"Again Bobby's an excellent wrestler, I'm not taking anything away from the guy, but I feel like I'm a much more dangerous fighter than Bobby Lashley. If things go the way I want them to with Tony Johnson, there's only two other people ahead of me for that title shot, that's Bobby Lashley and Cheick Kongo. Either one of those two would do well for me, but whichever one I don't care, because I'll have to prove myself either way. The Bellator Heavyweight division is so shallow right now I'm going to have to fight them ANYWAY."

Butler will face down Johnson in the Bellator cage with a master plan in mind to knock off the other contenders one-by-one until he's sitting on the throne. In the meantime, he wants Johnson to make it to the cage in one piece on Friday night.

"That's first and foremost. Don't blow your knee out homey -- we gotta get it on.

Complete audio of our interview with Butler is below and complete Bellator 148 coverage is right here at


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