"It feels real good, man. That's what I was coming there to do. I said before, the two wins before was great, but I wanna go out there and finish fights. That's what I wanna do. That's how you step up in the rankings and it felt really good to get back to my old ways and get a knockout and start getting a little more risky and taking more risks. When you take risks, you get rewarded and it played out in my favor this time," stated UFC lightweight Michael Johnson, who talked about his recent 2nd round knockout of Danny Castillo at UFC on FX 5, his future plans, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on the knockout win over Danny Castillo. How do you feel about the performance?
MJ: I feel real good about the performance, even though I kind of slipped up in that 1st round. I let him catch me with a good shot, but I recovered well and I bounced back perfectly in the 2nd round, and I did what I wanted to do and that's come out with a knockout. So all is well that ends well.
PC: Was it a flash knockdown or were you seriously hurt when you went down?
MJ: I wouldn't really say I was hurt; he just caught me slipping and he dropped me. I was moving back and next thing I know, my legs weren't coming back with me. I think when I hit the ground, I was able to realize what happened and, like I said, I recovered. But it was definitely like a small flash knockout and luckily, I fell the way I did because I was able to wake back up.
PC: What was the instruction you received when you made it back to the corner? Was it just to relax and keep your hands up?
MJ: Yeah, right when I got up from the horn, I was already composed then and 110% focused from the knockdown. So in the corner, they just told me to keep my hands up, because he caught me with a right hook, and they just told me to keep my hands up and go out in the 2nd round and get it back because that was a potential 10-8 round. So I had to really come out in the 2nd round and put in work.
PC: He tends to get wide with his hooks in previous fights. You caught him with a real short hook. Did you just realize you would have to shorten your punches up and you would get there first?
MJ: Yeah, I knew that he would swing wild punches. I think I came out and frustrated him and got him to thinking he would have to rush in to hit me. I'm a good counter puncher. Me and my team work on that a lot, punching off of the kick. He was right there in front of me and he came in with a sloppy kick and I hit him with a straight left hand right on the button.
PC: You are on a 3-fight winning streak, but your previous two wins were by decision. How good did it feel to get back in the knockout column, which is what we were accustomed to seeing from you?
MJ: It feels real good, man. That's what I was coming there to do. I said before, the two wins before was great, but I wanna go out there and finish fights. That's what I wanna do. That's how you step up in the rankings and it felt really good to get back to my old ways and get a knockout and start getting a little more risky and taking more risks. When you take risks, you get rewarded and it played out in my favor this time.
PC: How has working with the Blackzilians helped your game?
MJ: It's helped my growth so much. I have been on the team since day one, when Rashad came down and started it. Now it's me, him, Jorge Santiago, JZ, Anthony Johnson, and Tyrone Spong came down and joined us. Our team is just getting great. We got these world-class coaches and world-class athletes and we are gonna go beyond the phrase of sky's the limit. As long as the team stays strong, it will just keep getting stronger.
PC: They kept repeating during the telecast that Rashad Evans says you will definitely be a champion in the future. Is that pressure or just added confidence when someone who is at Rashad's level gives you that kind of praise?
MJ: Man, that's 100% motivation for me right there. To have somebody in his shoes say that about meÂ…I feel blessed and it's shocking. But working with him and taking advice from him, I think I am definitely a future champion, especially with him guiding me in that right direction. It's motivation and a challenge to myself, not to let just the team down, but him down as well. I gotta back his words up too.
PC: You got 3 fights in this year, which is usually the norm. Would you like to fight in December some time as well?
MJ: I would love to squeeze one in in December. I'm staying in shape. I'm right back in the gym already and I might have to wait until next year, but people get hurt quite a bit with the way we train. I would love to get 4 fights in this year. That would be a great year. But if not, I got a lot to work on and I will start the year off right.
PC: A lot of fighters used to balloon up in weight in between fights and things like that. You are already back in the gym. How important is it to stay in shape and ready to go, because like you said, injuries have been common as of late?
MJ: It's definitely important to stay in shape. That's a missed opportunity. If they call you and you are not ready to go, you missed out on a perfect opportunity. It's kind of like putting the brakes on your career, and I'm trying to climb up that ladder as soon as possible. So it puts me in a better position and its keeps the UFC out of trouble if they need somebody to step in, so it's good on both sides. And the thing is, I have to stay in shape. We got so many guys that's fighting so often, and they depend on me just like I depend on them, so it's important for me to be in shape while these guys are working out to get prepared for fights.
PC: You have shown constant progression in your fights. Is that your number one goal is to just continue to show improvement?
MJ: I would love to show progression in every fight. I'm in a position right now where my goal is to get better every fight to where you see a different Michael Johnson in the cage. That way, people don't really know what to game-plan around. They can just get ready for a tough fight. But that's what it is man, just try to stay on top of the game and just try to improve myself every time I get in there.
PC: A lot of guys get fights just off calling out a name now. Is there anyone in particular you would like to fight next or it doesn't matter?
MJ: Nobody in particular; just anybody that's in front of me that's standing in my way of getting to a title. There are a lot of tough guys in this division and I gotta come across that. I still got a couple of holes that I need to focus on and I need to get better at. I'm in no rush. They aren't going anywhere, but I get the right fights coming up, I can see myself in title contention. Whoever ready or whoever they give me, that's who I'm gonna go in there and beat.
PC: That's wassup, man. I appreciate the interview. Congrats again on a helluva knockout. Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?
MJ: Thanks for having me and everybody keep their eyes open, not just for me, but the Blackzilians. There are more big things to come.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]