Johnny Case is finally set to return to action for the first time since Dec. 2019.
The time away from mixed martial arts (MMA) makes for the longest gap the 32-year-old has had in his 34-fight career dating back to 2007. However, “Hollywood” has managed to stay busy with some commentary duties for his fighting home of RIZIN while also competing in boxing.
Case’s return sees him look to rebound off a loss to Tofiq Musayev his last time out by once again defeating feared Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master, Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza. The difference for this one is Satoshi now holds the Lightweight championship.
Due to the global pandemic, Case found himself restricted to the U.S. unable to make any trips to Japan. Thus presenting the possibility of returning to the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) where he fought once in Oct. 2018.
“I signed to PFL but I wanted to stay with RIZIN. I love it here,” Case told MMAMania.com on BROADENED HORIZIN. “This is where I’ll finish my MMA career. Whether that branches into Bellator fights as well, that’s an option here because Bellator and RIZIN work together. I have a unique contract similar to [Kyoji] Horiguchi and those guys, too. So when I become the champion, that’s definitely a possibility to go fight for Bellator as well, have some fights there. But RIZIN is where I’m going to be the rest of my career.”
Brief legal troubles reared their head during Case’s break from MMA when he was arrested on charges of domestic battery following an alleged altercation with an ex-girlfriend. Case went on to claim self-defense and the charges were eventually dropped.
We could have seen Case competing much sooner than we will but by the point that things were cleared up, it was too late as the PFL had already pulled the trigger and released him before the PFL 2021 Lightweight season began.
“I was signed with the PFL, I left RIZIN because PFL was paying me a substantial amount more plus there’s the million-dollar tournament on top of it,” Case said. “You win four fights, you’re a world champion. That’s always been my goal since I started out fighting is to be a world champion. Then some stuff happened in my personal life that was out of my control. Unfortunately, I was withdrawn from the tournament. It is what it is. The PFL kind of — I understand their point but I kind of felt slighted in that situation. Some stuff happened, completely made-up stuff, and they didn’t hear my side of the story. I found out after the fact that my manager didn’t really stand up for me. Wasn’t really a good manager at all. That was a lesson, too. You gotta be mindful about who you got representing you in this sport and that is so crucial. I’ve had to learn that lesson the hard way.
“It’s not about the money for me,” he concluded. “The money’s nice but a world title is what I’m after and now it’s my shot and I’m gonna seize this opportunity and continue to have great fights.”
The Jefferson, Iowa native picked up three knockout wins in boxing during his absence so he’s eager to show off the improvements in his already solid striking abilities. Just the fact that he’s made it back to the sport he loves already feels like a win for “Hollywood.”
Despite the RIZIN 35 main event spotlight he and Satoshi hold on April 17, Case feels no pressure. Having already beaten Satoshi and analyzed him on his current four-fight winning streak, Case’s confidence is at an all-time high.
“I definitely have seen a lot of improvement since his loss to me,” Case said. “He’s definitely looked like a champion his last outings. Especially beating Tofiq the way he did, so fast, and [Yusuke] Yachi. He beat Yachi before but Yachi’s still game, a really tough opponent. And he went out there and dominated with ease. If that Satoshi shows up then that’s what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping for a great challenge like that but honestly, the first time we were matched up, I don’t believe he even showed up to fight. From the moment we got our card’s drawn in the tournament, I could just see it on his face. He was terrified. He was doubting himself from the beginning. From the moment we got in that ring, I could tell he didn’t want to be there. I’m really hoping that he’s done the work mentally and he’s gonna show up and give me the best version of himself because I’m really looking forward to that.”
Watch the full episode in the video above or you can listen on Spotify.