If we learned one thing from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 94 in Hidalgo, Texas, it’s certainly not to disrespect lightweight contender Michael Johnson.
Coming off a 2015 he’d probably wish to forget, ‘The Menace’ was coming into his UFC Fight Night Hidalgo main event bout with Dustin Poirier with his back literally against the wall. Back-to-back losses certainly put the pressure on fighters as time and time again we’ve seen the UFC adopt the three strikes and you’re out rule.
Poirier was coming in hot and understandably was the bookies favourite to win having won four in a row since moving up to lightweight. Johnson, however, needed only 95 seconds to beat his opponent as a right hook, followed up with an over hand left, floored Poirier leaving him open for some ground ‘n’ pound which ended the fight.
“I was speechless,” Johnson remarked after. “It felt really good. I was telling you guys, my back’s against the wall and I have to fight my way off of it. But I still feel like my back’s against the wall. So the next victim has to deal with that.
“Everybody doubted me, of course. Everyone was doubting me, and that’s what motivated me: seeing everyone picking Dustin. He was on a four-fight winning streak. But I told you guys, whenever someone feels like he’s untouchable, it’s the biggest mistake he can make. It happened tonight.”
Prior to the fight, Johnson and Poirier had a heated face off at the ceremonial weigh ins. Johnson claims the pre-fight talk heated things up.
He recalled: “I don’t know where it came from. I have the utmost respect for Dustin, and to hear the things he was saying in his interviews, it was just shocking. I took offense to that, and I felt a little disrespected. He called me a nobody. You just got beat by a nobody, and beat badly.
“Hopefully, he swallows his words, as that was a humbling defeat, I hope. After the fight, I stood over him and I mouthed some things to him, and that’s not me. I got a little too emotional. I apologized to him afterward, and I hope we can stay cordial in the future.
“He looked up right at me like he wanted to get up and fight again… I didn’t need to take it that far, but I felt really disrespected this week, so that’s where it came from.”