#MichaelJohnson is feeling no pain right now.
Fresh off a vicious first round knockout of Dustin Poirier in their headlining bout at Fight Night 94 -- a win which was not only the biggest of his career, but one that snapped a two-fight losing streak to boot -- "The Menace" booked a fight against top-ranked lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov on the UFC's historic #UFC205 card shortly thereafter. With a win, he could very well launch himself to the top of the division's rankings -- a position which I'm told means something but only sometimes.
Point is, Johnson is anything but shy on confidence at the moment, and decided to speak his mind about his upcoming opponent at length during a recent interview with BloodyElbow.
Though he was quick to give his undefeated opponent his due respect, Johnson believes that his vast superiority on the feet and incredibly high takedown percentage (81% according to Fight Metric, good for fourth among active lightweights) will be enough to earn him the victory over Nurmagomedov.
"People tend to forget what they don't see or what they're not reminded of. I've fought wrestlers my entire career," said Johnson.
The topic eventually shifted to his competitor's seemingly open contempt for UFC management, which he has begun to display through increasingly publicly means in recent months after allegedly being used as "a pawn" to get #ConorMcGregor to fight #EddieAlvarez at UFC 205. Back in October, the Dagestani-native even went as far as to not-so-subtly threaten to block the UFC from entering Russia.
As you might expect, Johnson did not speak too highly of his opponent's recent outbursts, even if he understands the potential merit in them.
I think that’s a pretty dangerous game to play with the UFC. But at the same time, you never know. Guys try things out and see what kind of reaction it gets. If that’s the way he feels, that’s the way he feels. You can’t knock a man for saying what he truly means, so at least he’s man enough to do that.
Johnson makes a good point here, and one that Conor McGregor has been proving since essentially the day he stepped foot in the UFC (as he recently laid it out, "Everyone in this game does what they're f-cking told except for me and rightly f-cking so."). Though Nurmagomedov may not be as charismatic a figure as McGregor, he is an undefeated, incredibly talented fighter who could serve as a bridge into a new market in the same way that #MichaelBisping did for England or #GeorgesStPierre did for Canada.
That said, I don't think the smartest way of going about that would be through blatant hostility and threats against management, but I've landed like 6 takedowns in my life total.