Tag Archive for Foes
Michael Johnson recently announced his intention to drop down to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight division after back-to-back losses at Lightweight.
According to “The Menace,” it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to losing, as he was planning on dropping down to 145 pounds anyway.
“There’s always been a thought in my head to drop down,” Johnson told reporters at UFC Fight Night 115 (via MMA Junkie). “Regardless of how I was doing in this division, win or lose, that was kind of a plan of mine, to drop down to 145, test the waters.”
Johnson’s last loss came against Justin Gaethje this past July in a “Fight of the Year” contender (see it again here). Getting knocked out, however, played no part in his drop down and he doesn’t rule out a move back up.
“Come back up to 155, maybe, because I fought everybody in the top 10 of the 155. I fought numerous people. I just wanted to see new changes, new faces and to see how I react. It has nothing to do with the fact that I lost to Justin. Even if I would have won, 145 still would have been a thought in my mind,” he added.
As for his first fight in a new division, Johnson called for a bout against former 145-pound champion Jose Aldo. If he doesn’t get his wish, then he will take the next toughest guy in line because Johnson isn’t in the fight game to fight someone who is just “okay.”
“The next toughest guy in line,” Johnson said. “I think that’s maybe detrimental to my career, maybe hurts it a little bit that I always go for the toughest fight. But my first fight at 145, Aldo is a former champ, he’s one of the best in the world, always been.
“So that’s one guy that I would love to fight. I’m not in this sport to fight the guy that’s okay. I want the toughest guy. I want everybody that says he can’t be beat.”
Aldo, however, can be beat, as evidenced by his losses to Conor McGregor — which occurred in 13 seconds — and Max Holloway (see it), coming in two of his last three outings, both times surrendering his Featherweight title. Prior to that, Aldo did look unbeatable, winning 18 straight fights without losing a bout in nearly a decade.
Aldo is eying a return to action at UFC 217 this November and was briefly linked to a showdown against Ricardo Lamas. But since the fight has yet to be made official, Johnson has time to ramp up his campaign.
This is about as close to trash talk as Sage Northcutt is going to get.
The top UFC prospect took some mild shots at Mickey Gall on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Monday. Northcutt has not been too impressed with Gall’s UFC opponents, CM Punk and Mike Jackson, since both came in without a pro MMA bout on their record.
“I think just him going in and fighting two guys that had no fights — I think they were both close to 40 years old, too — it’s almost like fighting someone’s dad that only trained very little for a fight,” Northcutt said. “It was definitely interesting if you think of it that way.”
CM Punk, 37, was making his MMA debut after training for the last year and a half at Roufusport following his run as a WWE headliner. Jackson, 31, better known as an MMA photographer and writer, had only pro kickboxing experience coming into the fight with Gall in February. Gall finished both men in the first round with rear-naked choke submissions, Punk at UFC 203 earlier this month.
“CM Punk, that was awesome for him to get out there and have the guts to go out there and fight,” Northcutt said. “Not everybody would do that. … That’s awesome for him. I think everybody kind of expected it to go the way it did.”
After beating Punk, Gall called out Northcutt, saying he wanted to fight him at UFC 205 in New York and making fun of the spikes in his hair. Gall also called Northcutt corny. “Super Sage” said he was watching, but was not offended by Gall’s words.
“He’s talking about my hair — he wants to punch the spikes out of my hair — and looking at that from his fights that I’ve seen and looking at his pictures, his hair kind of looks like mine,” Northcutt said. “It just doesn’t have the hair gel in it, it doesn’t look like. I’m thinking that maybe he should get some hair gel and style it or something.”
Northcutt, 20, did take some umbrage with another part of Gall’s interview: the language he used. Gall dropped a multitude of f-bombs in the post-fight chat with Joe Rogan. Northcutt was not down with that.
“I think a step too far was when he’s cussing and sending the curse words out there,” Northcutt said. “I don’t know. He said that’s how he gets people’s attention, but I don’t know what people’s attention he’s trying to get if he’s cussing out there. Is it the families? The moms? The little kids that are watching? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem very appropriate.”
Northcutt (8-1) is coming off a unanimous decision win over Enrique Marin at UFC 200 in July. His lone career loss came before that to Bryan Barberena at UFC on FOX 18 in January. That defeat came at 170 pounds, not where Northcutt usually fights at 155. But “Super Sage” said he would fight Gall at his weight class of 170, because going to lightweight is a tough cut for him. He was just ill going into the Barberena fight.
“At the time my body just didn’t heal up and wasn’t feeling right,” Northcutt said. “This time coming around, having more time notice for it and fighting at 170, I should be healthy.”
The Texas native said he’s currently recovering from a second staph infection this year, so he wouldn’t be ready for UFC 205 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden. Northcutt did say he’d be available to fight Gall in December. And he’d be confident in the outcome.
“All I could say is that I believe I have better grappling than him and better stand up,” Northcutt said. “If I go out there, I can take the fight wherever I want. If I want to go out there and stand up with him and knock him out, I believe i can do that. If I want to take him down and submit him, I believe I can do that also.”