Johnson: "I'm winning, no matter what!"
Story by David L. Hudson
One of the more exciting, up-and-coming mixed martial artists in the UFC is Anthony Johnson, a fighter who possesses devastating striking, superior strength and exceptional athleticism. In addition, Johnson has a strong wrestling background and has improved his cardio and conditioning. However, his career has been marked by stops and starts, by momentum building and a couple career deflations.
Johnson burst on the Octagon scene in June 2007 with a 13-second destruction of Chad Reiner. A few months later he disappointed himself and fans with a submission loss to veteran Rich Clementi, losing via a rear naked choke in the 2nd round. Johnson returned to his devastating self with a 51-second conquest of Tommy Speer in 2008, but then lost a few months later in controversial fashion to Kevin Burns, who hit him with an unintentional eye poke. Johnson got tagged with another loss in what probably should have been a no-decision or no-contest. However, Johnson rebounded with his best performance to date, stopping the tough Burns and then a follow-up win in the first round over Luigi Fioravanti.
With two straight wins, Johnson enters UFC 104 with much momentum. However, he faces a stern test in the form of Japanese submission specialist Yoshiyuki Yoshida. Johnson recently took the time to speak with Fightnews about his upcoming bout and other related topics.
How is training going?
It’s going good and coming along well. I’m in great shape and looking forward to the fight.
What challenges does Yoshida present?
His submissions are pretty good and solid so I’ll need to be prepared to defend those and I am prepared. He’s a good, strong fighter so it will be a good test for me.
Yoshida has submitted Jon Kopenhaver and Brandon Wolff in the UFC; does that concern you?
I lost to Rich Clementi via submission but I just simply gassed out. That won’t happen this time, as I’m in much better shape. Yes, Yoshida is a strong fighter with good submissions but I plan on defeating him.
How did it feel to avenge your controversial loss to Kevin Burns (Johnson got poked in the eye) with a great performance?
That was the best fight in the world and my best fight by far in the UFC. It felt awesome.
What are your goals as a mixed martial artist?
I just want to keep improving and make a name for myself. I want fans to remember me as a special fighter and to do that I have to keep improving myself as a fighter.
You are an excellent striker; did you have boxing experience before your UFC career?
No, I had no boxing experience at all. I tell people that my striking comes from simply hard work and that hard work pays off. In some early training in mixed martial arts, I just got tired of getting hit in the mouth and I wanted to strike back.
What is your prediction for the fight with Yoshida?
I plan on winning no matter what. I am going to do whatever I have to do in there to win.
Any message for your fans?
I just want to thank all the fans that have supported me through thick and thin. There has been some negativity about me in the past and I want to thank the good people who have stuck by me. Thank you so much for your support.
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- David L. Hudson Jr. is a feature writer for Fightnews.com and the author of Combat Sports: An Encyclopedia of Wrestling, Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts.