No one sucks in UFC, says Johnson
Story by Victor Perea
With new mixed martial arts organizations popping up, what seems like every other week, there are plenty of rosters looking for professional fighters hungry to make a name for themselves. Make your way through the minor leagues and you might just get a call to the invite only apex of the sport, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It’s the only place where top talent can jump into deep waters and find out if they really are able to compete against the best in their division.
“Nobody in the UFC sucks,” said welterweight hopeful DaMarques Johnson (13-7) who fights on the undercard for UFC 107 next Saturday in Memphis, TN.
“Nobody gets here by accident, everybody has to prove they belong,” added the Salt Lake City native and he is right. Cliché as it may sound there really are no easy fights inside the Octagon.
The list of welterweight hopefuls within the UFC includes nine of the top ten ranked welterweight fighters in the world; the only non-hopeful on that list is top ranked UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. “It’s a very tough division. Very tough, very deep,” added Johnson who lost his bid to become the winner of the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter in June. Although removed from the pressure of being the lone American hope in the UK versus US reality series, Johnson is not sweating it.
“It’s pretty much the same, I mean you’re trading one set of nerves for another,” said a humble Johnson of the difference in pressure between fighting on the shows finale and next weekends follow up to that tough loss.
“I’m relaxed, had really good, really tough sparring sessions. I’m feeling pretty good been working on some of the holes in my game and just getting ready for a tough fight.”
That tough fight will come against Edgar Garcia (7-1), who like Johnson is coming off a disappointing loss in his UFC debut.
“Both of us are looking for the same thing, we both lost our first fight and we’re both looking to win and show that we deserve to fight in the octagon again.” Garcia will be no easy subsequent bout for Johnson. The twenty-five year old Sonora, Mexico born, Yuma, AZ raised fighter has finished 6 of his 7 victories in the first round.
“He’s tough, he’s strong and I’m not taking him lightly,” added Johnson.
Unlike many fighters who transitioned from wrestling in high school, then college followed by mixed martial arts, the twenty-seven year old Johnson experienced an adult life before he even began fighting professionally; serving in the Utah National Guard right out of high school. Johnson believes his experience before the octagon gives him a mental advantage in the sport.
“Advantage in life? Yes. In the cage? No. What I’ve noticed is that I don’t get sucked into the fighter trap doors that come with a fight like the women, parties and wild nights. You’ve already been exposed to that if you had any kind of life before this, so I am able to focus on training and doing what I need to do without having all these other distractions that can get you. That’s what helped me maintain that kind of life, make smart decisions and do the right things. I have a son that’s the most important thing. I’m not going to be like a War Machine or anything like that.”
Johnson refers to the troubled former UFC welterweight fighter formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver; a losing competitor on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra. With prior violent criminal history includes obstructing a police officer and possession of a stolen firearm, Koppenhaver legally changed his name to his moniker “War Machine” and after previously avoiding felony charges Koppenhaver was cut from the UFC roster, started a side career in pornography and currently has a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly choking his girlfriend at a party in November.
“There are a lot of places that somebody in this business can go wrong. There are options and doors that open but there’s also a lot of temptations that you have to know yourself and know what you should and shouldn’t do,” added Johnson who believes you have to surround yourself with like minds, “You’re only as loyal as your surroundings.”
Being able to put his career in healthy perspective helps Johnson maintain focus on achieving success in the UFC welterweight division, and it’s amazing that he is even fighting in the 170 pound division.
“I was 247lbs when I met Jeremy Horn,” said Johnson of meeting the legendary mixed martial artist and his trainer with over 100 fights to his credit. “I remember losing weight and being able to see my abs, I was like wow look at these! But now I have a six pack and my girlfriend says the six pack is nice but she wishes I had a little more meat on me, so you can never get it right you know?” said Johnson laughing.
The humble, down to earth fighter is fully focused on making his bout with Garcia stand out among a loaded card.
“I plan on putting on an exciting fight for the fans. I can see my fight stealing fight of the night. I think our styles match up well for the fans, we’re both coming off losses and we’re both trying to prove we deserve to be back. It’s going to be tough with guys like Clay Guida and Diego Sanchez on the card but our fight I think will stand out.”
“I’m going out to put on a good show I’m looking forward to it. I want to thank Truesoldier.com and Tap Out for supporting me all the way here and I hope to put on a good show for them and everybody else who has supported me through my career.”