Michael Johnson feels his focus was lacking in recent fights, and it’s an issue he has addressed heading into UFC Lincoln this Saturday against Andre Fili.
Lincoln, NB — Suffice to say, Michael Johnson has struggled of late. The UFC Lincoln co-main event star is desperately in need of a win. Once a promising lightweight talent, Johnson hit hard times back in 2015, when he embarked on a 1-5 skid. To be fair, Johnson was fighting some of the best in the world: Nate Diaz. Khabib Nurmagomedov. Justin Gaethje.
No easy outs. Yet his lone win since 2015 came over Dustin Poirier in September 2016, a man who has since eclipsed him in terms of profile and ranking. Worse, a drop down to featherweight earlier this year didn’t go as planned, as he was submitted by Darren Elkins.
While Johnson considered a move back to lightweight, he’s sticking at 145lbs for now. So what has been lacking of late? Focus.
“My last few I haven’t been fully focused enough. And that’s what it is,” Johnson explained at Thursday’s UFC Lincoln media day. “But now in this training camp I’ve been really focusing on just me. Taking my time, really focusing on what I need to do.”
“Just speaking everything,” he added. Vocalizing — “I know how great I am, I know I’m better than these guys I’m fighting, I know I’m better than these guys I’m losing to.” What he knows he needs to do is “to stay focused for fifteen minutes, twenty-five minutes, whatever it is, and get back on the winning track. Because f*ck, I really miss that feeling. Especially when you’re beating these guys and end up losing, there’s no worse way to lose than that.”
Having faced a murder’s row of opponents in recent years, Johnson was asked how he feels Fili compares. It’s not something he’s worried about, however. “I don’t look at my past fights,” he told reporters. “I don’t look at who I’ve fought. I don’t try to compare them to Andre Fili, because when it’s all said and done, Andre Fili is the toughest guy I’m going to face, because I fight him Saturday night. That’s the only thing I’m focused on right now.”
And there’s that focus again.
Michael Johnson vs. Andre Fili’s co-main event battle at UFC Lincoln (UFC Fight Night 135) airs this Saturday, August 25 on Fox Sports 1. The event takes place at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, NB. Catch the full media day scrum with Michael Johnson above.