Former UFC lightweight contender Michael Johnson will make his 145-pound debut tomorrow night (Sun., Jan. 14, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 124 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, as he takes on divisional staple and all-around gamer Darren Elkins.
It will be Johnson’s first fight outside of the UFC’s lightweight division since entering the promotion back in 2010. Johnson’s decision to drop down to featherweight came after losing back-to-back fights to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, but it didn’t necessarily mean that “Menace” was afraid to stay at 155 pounds. Fighting at featherweight was simply the better option.
“People are like, ‘Oh my god, you lost to Justin (Gaethje), and you’re running to featherweight,’” Johnson told MMAjunkie. “You guys sound like some clowns. It’s the quickest way to a title shot for me. There’s so much going on at the top of the lightweight division. Conor (McGregor) is holding it up; Tony (Ferguson) and Khabib (Nurmagomedov) are going back and forth; so you never know. Even if I knock out a couple wins, I still could not be next in line for a title shot. Nate (Diaz) could come back in. It’s a popularity contest rather than somebody who actually deserves it. Me going down to featherweight, I get two solid wins, and I’m next in line, especially with my resume at 155.”
If Johnson is able to get past Elkins this weekend at UFC Fight Night 124 then maybe he will be just a few wins away from a title shot, especially considering his exciting fighting style. Still, “Menace” must first make a successful weight cut for his first stop at 145 pounds.
“It’s extremely life-changing,” Johnson said of his drop down to featherweight. “I haven’t had a piece of bread in like two months. I’m dreading this cut. But it’s re-motivated me. It’s given me a new spark of life. I’m definitely rededicated to the sport, my training is going a lot harder, a lot tougher, and I don’t have that little time to slack off. I can’t afford a cheat meal here and there, I can’t afford to sneak a cookie or something or some candy. I’ve got a strict diet, with everything timed and eating right. It’s going good. I’m happy.”
Despite the need to change up a few things for his cut to 145 pounds, Johnson remains confident that featherweight will be his permanent home moving forward. Of course, sustained success in the division could lead to a return to lightweight for “Menace.”
“This is my future,” Johnson said. “I definitely think I’m going to go down here and get this title. That’s what I’m here to do. But I’m definitely not completely done with the lightweight division. I have a plan of going back up there. There’s still a few guys I’ve got some unfinished business with that I want some fights back. Who knows, I get that title around my waist at 145, then I get to call some shots at 155.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 124 fight card, starting with the UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.