Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a little over a week away from his toughest fight to date, as well as his biggest fight.
At UFC 205, Johnson takes on No.1 lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he got the opportunity off his last bout where he won in impressive fashion against Dustin Poirier, knocking him out in 95 seconds. Johnson thinks he is finally hitting his stride too after finally fixing some lingering injuries he had.
“The speed of my punches in that fight came with my shoulders getting healthy,” Johnson said, via FloCombat. “When I had my labrum and my rotator cuff repaired is when I realized how badly they had been damaged for a long amount of time. I was fighting for two years before I got them both fixed, but now I’m getting them healthy again and everything is firing on all cylinders.
“It felt great to go in there and get a devastating knockout and prove to myself I’m progressing, only getting better and healthy again. Now it’s onto more work and a harder opponent. It’s onto better competition and higher stakes.”
The winner of Nurmagomedov-Johnson may very well earn the next title shot against the winner of the main event between Eddie Alvarez and Conor McGregor — a fight that Nurmagomedov was close to getting himself, but Johnson jumped on the opportunity once his schedule became open.
“I got what I asked for,” Johnson said. “I wanted a fight in New York against a tough opponent, and all the stars aligned. I don’t know the details of what happened with Khabib and the title shot, but hey I’m benefiting from it. Conor got the title fight, and now I get to step in and fight Khabib in a No. 1 contender fight. I’m ready to go in there and take care of business.”
Coming off a loss to Nate Diaz, Johnson was the underdog when he fought Dustin Poirier, and once again the underdog going in against Nurmagomedov, but he plans to keep proving people wrong.
“I’ve never left that mindset,” Johnson said. “I took it into my training, and I’m having great sessions this camp. I’m looking to take it into this fight, and just like I said going into my last one, I still feel like my back is against the wall. Everybody counted me out in the last one, and there’s doing it again for this one so I keep my head down and keep putting in the work to prove them wrong.”