Michael Johnson has struggled to turn in good results inside of the Octagon of late.
The former Ultimate Fighter standout is currently in the midst of the worst losing streak of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. After dropping back-to-back lightweight affairs against divisional studs Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, “Menace” dropped down to test his luck at featherweight.
Unfortunately for Johnson, hard-nosed veteran Darren Elkins welcomed him to the 145-pound division with a first-round submission stoppage back in January, extending his losing streak to three and overall record to 2-5 since the start of 2015.
While Johnson thought about moving back up to 155 pounds where he called home from 2010-2017, the veteran decided to stay at featherweight and prove that he’s capable of sustainable success.
“I considered going back up, but everyone knows how stubborn I am in this sport,” Johnson told MMAjunkie. “I was like, ‘No, hell no. I need another win.’ So I’m going to put myself through the torture of getting down to 145 again. I can’t just go into a division then run away after another loss. That’s not me. I want to show everybody that, ‘Hey, I’m here. I can compete with these guys and I’m going to take the division over and come back in and finish what I started at lightweight.’”
Johnson, 32, will make his second appearance at featherweight tomorrow night (Sat., Aug. 25, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 135 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, when he takes on divisional veteran Andre Fili.
It’s a fight that “Menace” feels ready to dominate, especially considering this has been one of his best camps in recent memory.
“My mindset, my last few fights I haven’t been full focused enough,” Johnson said. “This training camp I’ve been really focused. Just me taking my time, focusing on what I need to do. Speaking everything into existence. I know how great I am. I know I’m better than these guys that I’m fighting, I’m better than these guys I’m losing too. I just need to stay focused for 15 minutes, 25 minutes, whatever it is. Get back on the winning track, because (expletive), I really miss that feeling. Especially when you’re beating these guys and end up losing. There’s no worse way to lose than that.”
Fili, 28, is a true test for Johnson at the 145-pound level. The Team Alpha Male standout has won back-to-back fights over notable featherweights Dennis Bermudez and Artem Lobov, which has left him with his first win streak since entering the promotion back in 2013.
While Fili has been settling into his own and has the necessary tools to take out Johnson in tomorrow night’s co-main event, Johnson believes “Touchy” is overlooking him as an opponent. If that ‘s the case, the old “Menace” could reap the benefits.
“He’s definitely underestimating me,” Johnson said. “I’ve been hearing around here. So that’s a bad thing for him. He’s a (expletive) idiot if he’s doing that. … He thinks it’s his time, he thinks I’ve came and gone already. But this is my second breath. I’m in it to win it and you guys are going to see the old Michael Johnson in there.”
UFC Fight Night 135 will be headlined by a lightweight battle between fan favorite Justin Gaethje and streaking contender James Vick.
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