Johnson plans on 'vicious knockout!'
Interview by David L. Hudson, Jr
One of the more intriguing UFC prospects in the 170 lb. division is Anthony Johnson who packs explosive kayo power in both hands. Witness his 13-second demolition of Chad Reiner in his Octagon debut in June 2007. He boasts a 5-1 professional MMA record, his only loss to the experienced veteran Rich “No Love” Clementi – a fight in which Johnson took on short notice, had to drop much weight and still dominated the first round. Johnson rebounded in his last fight, dominating former Ultimate Fighter finalist Tommy Speer at UFC Fight Night 13 in April 2008.
However, on July 19th Johnson faces a tough test from another 170 lb. prospect – Kevin Burns, who pulled off an amazing upset of Roan Carneiro. Johnson took time off from his busy training schedule to speak to Fightnews.
Q: How has your training been for this fight?
A: It has been going great. I am in the best shape that I’ve been in before a fight.
Q: You are fighting a tough opponent in Kevin Burns. What is your assessment of him?
A: He is a legit opponent for sure. He is a tough guy but honestly I don’t think he can beat me. He hasn’t been hit the way I hit.
Q: How important is this fight in your career?
A: It is my first fight on a major UFC fight card so it’s very important. It should be a very exciting fight for the fans.
Q: What is your prediction for this fight?
A: I plan on having a vicious knockout. I always go in the Octagon to try to win impressively. There is no lollygagging when you’re in the Octagon.
Q: Your only loss as a professional is to Rich Clementi. Would you like to avenge that defeat in the future?
A: I would love to get him in there again. I took that fight on short notice. But, he’s a very legit opponent and very experienced. I know I can beat him. I mean I had him 10-8 in the first round until I fatigued.
Q: In this sport that requires mastery of so many disciplines how are you progressing?
A: I’m progressing. I wrestled in college, so my ground-game is better than people think. I’m not a phenomenal grappler as far as submissions but I’m not bad. I’m better at defending against submissions than executing them.
Q: What do you work on the most?
A: I work on my stand-up game a lot. I also work on my take-down defense. I mean I work on everything but put a lot into my stand-up game.
Q: Did you have any prior boxing experience?
A: No, I never had any boxing training at all until two years ago. It is just through hard work and dedication that I’ve developed my striking. I train my ass off.
Q: What are your goals as a mixed martial artist?
A: I want to be a champion of course. But, also I want to make the sport better in the eyes of the public. Too many people still think of mixed martial artists as crazed animals and barbarians. I would like to help change that perception.
Q: What goals do you live by?
A: I try to live life to the fullest and with no regrets.
Q: Any message for your fans?
A: Yes, thank you for all your support and love. I would also like to thank my sponsors – Tapout, Claremont Toyota and Knoxx. And I would like to thank all my family and friends in Dublin, Georgia.
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David L. Hudson Jr. is a feature writer for Fightnews, covering boxing and mixed martial arts. He is currently at work on the upcoming book The Encyclopedia of Combat Sports.