Andre Fili will have the biggest opportunity of his career later this evening (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 former lightweight contender Michael Johnson in an important featherweight co-main event.
This is not only a chance for Fili to shine on a televised main card, but he’s looking to lock down his third-straight victory after defeating the likes of Dennis Bermudez and Artem Lobov over the past 10 months. “Touchy” hasn’t produced a win streak of this magnitude since fighting back on the open circuit in 2013.
It’s an extremely important point in Fili’s career as the 28-year-old tries to push himself into contention at 145 pounds. Fortunately, the Team Alpha Male standout has the positive outlook needed to ascend the featherweight division and make people start noticing his potential.
“I’m going to be a world champion within the year, and then I’m going to use that,” Fili told MMA Fighting. “The thing is, once you have a belt, then people start paying attention to you. So the problem is, I think, for a lot of people, they’re just fighters. They win a world title and then that’s all they are, they’re one-dimensional. I have a clothing brand. I have music. I just did my first part in a real feature film. So I have a bunch of things that I’m going to do.
“I knock Michael Johnson out in a couple days here, Aug. 25th, then I try to get on that Nov. 30 card, fight a top five guy, knock him out. Then I think I’m right there in the rankings for my title shot, and whoever has the belt, I fight them, I take the belt, then I use that to springboard — to get people to notice the music we’re making. There’s only a couple things I want to do, whether it’s acting or making music or fighting, and I want to be the best in the world. Some athletes make music and most of that s**t is corny. I make actual good hip-hop. The movie I just did, I think it’ll be on Netflix in 2019, and it’s a real, legitimate movie.
“I want to do all of these things that I want to do, but I want to do them right. I’m not going to do them in some corny, half-ass way. I’m a fighter, so I’m going to be a world champion. If I’m going to be an actor, I’m going to be in a real movie. When people go look up music, it’s not going to be some corny, gimmicky s**t. ... Everything I do, I want to be great at.”
Making matters better for Fili is the fact that two of his teammates have already fought Johnson inside of the Octagon. Team Alpha Male coach and former UFC lightweight Danny Castillo had some success against “Menace” back in 2012 before suffering a knockout defeat, while current UFC featherweight contender Darren Elkins just choked Johnson out this past January.
It’s nice to have that type of experience in your corner, especially for a fighter like Fili who is excited to soak it all up.
“It’s obviously very cool to have those guys because they’re f*cking great fighters, they’re UFC vets, they’ve been in the cage for a long time, but more specifically, they have the insight into how to beat this dude,” Fili said. “They both had success with him. Danny dropped him with a right hand, and obviously Elkins was able to finish the fight with a rear-naked choke, so having their insight is valuable, man. It’s good to have them, it’s good to have that input, have them there for my preparation.
“I think [Johnson] is dangerous, he’s a good fighter, he’s athletic. But I saw him — he broke against Elkins. Elkins broke him in the second, and I think that says a lot. But I’m not counting him out. I’m ready to fight a very dangerous, dangerous opponent.”
Fili will try to take the next step in his MMA career tonight at UFC Lincoln. Up until this point he’s been a middle-of-the-pack fighter at 145 pounds. His fighting style if certainly contagious and has withstood world-class competition over the years, but “Touchy” is looking to show new levels to his game against his toughest test to date.
“I think that some people are better hammers than they are nails,” Fili said. “I think some people, they really like to fight as long as they can be the cool, smooth hero. But when you get put in that grinder, you put in that chaos of a gnarly back-and-forth fight, it takes a different kind of person. And I’m a sick motherf*cker and I love that. I love that fight. I love that kill or be killed. I love that sort of fight to the death, that really chaotic fight. I love that, I thrive in that. So that’s definitely something I’m counting on.
“I see pressure, I see aggression. No feeling out process, no f*cking patty-cake. I see us coming out and getting right into a f*cking pissing contest and me just being the more intelligent, aggressive, pressuring fighter, and I’m getting my hand raised, man. It doesn’t matter where it’s at, this is the best I’ve ever felt as a striker, the best I’ve ever felt as a grappler, the best I’ve ever felt as a complete fighter. Wherever the fight goes, I’m going to finish him. I will finish Michael Johnson this Saturday, August 25th.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 135 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 2 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.