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UFC London - New Blood: The man with a million nicknames

UFC Fighter Portraits Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

The last few Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events have been pretty light on newcomers, and the show this weekend (Sat., July 23, 2022) in London, England, likewise features just one. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where UFC’s aborted plan to dissolve the Flyweight division grows more moronic by the day, we check out an entertaining LFA champion last seen in an absolute slugfest.

LIVE! Stream UFC San Diego On ESPN+

PIVOTAL BANTAMWEIGHT CLASH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to San Diego, Calif., on Sat., Aug. 13, 2022, for the first time since 2015 with a pivotal battle between top-ranked Bantamweight contenders that will see No. 5-ranked Marlon Vera take on former champion and No. 8-seeded Dominick Cruz. In San Diego’s co-main event, Nate Landwehr and David Onama will collide in a Featherweight showdown between dynamic 145-pound hopefuls.

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Charles “InnerG” Johnson

Weight Class: Flyweight
Age: 31
Record: 11-2 (5 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Carlos Mota, Yuma Horiuchi

A split decision over future Road to UFC competitor, Yuma Horiuchi, earned Johnson the interim LFA Flyweight title, which he defended with a second round finish of Joao Camilo. Upon being upgraded to full champion, he put on an absolute barnburner with Carlos Mota, ultimately finishing “Tizil” early in the fifth frame.

I’ve seen Johnson described as “a Flyweight Bobby Green with kicks,” and the comparison’s pretty apt. He’s a switch-hitting, hands-low slickster, firing off lead low and body kicks while looking for opportunities to land jabs, crosses and left hooks. There are a lot of nice little details to his offense, from his effective use of body shots to his tendency to switch stances mid-combination to the way he’ll use his right hand and right leg to check his opponent’s left hand and left leg when standing Southpaw. Thanks to a steeplechase background, he’s got bottomless cardio, often getting stronger as the fight progresses.

His killer instinct is worth a mention as well. He can be downright vicious when he wants to be, as seen in his trucking of Camilo and late surge against Mota.

It’s an offbeat, effective offense, but one let down by a handful of shortcomings. For one, he’s very prone to leading with naked kicks from within punching range, and he doesn’t appear to learn his lesson when the counters start coming. Indeed, Mota found tons of success just chucking overhand rights whenever Johnson fired a low kick. In addition, he can be backed to the fence too easily despite generally solid movement. He had some bizarre stretches against Horiuchi wherein he simply stood there and tried to block combinations with his back against the fence, and Mota likewise did good work with body shots in those situations.

As seen by his recent success, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially since he’s got a solid wrestling game to back it up. He mostly uses it defensively, and when opponents time one of those naked kicks for a takedown, he’s impressively quick to sweep his way free. When he does initiate the wrestling, it’s usually as a counter and to mixed success. When he does end up on top, though, his ground-and-pound is absolutely vicious.

Although he’s not likely to reach the five-round fights where he’s at his best, he’s a quality addition to the Flyweight roster, and there are a lot of fun match ups available to him. Looking forward to seeing whether he can recreate “King’s” Octagon success.

Opponent: He gets a heck of a test in 21-year-old super prospect, Muhammad Mokaev. Johnson’s striking and great scrambling skills should serve him well, but while I do think he can avoid Mokaev’s submissions and really make the youngster work for it, he leaves too many openings for takedowns to pull the upset.

Tape: His LFA bouts are on Fight Pass.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC London fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 3 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC London: “Aspinall vs. Blaydes” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.