If you ask Bellator MMA’s Tim Johnson, who makes his promotional debut at Bellator 208 on Friday, Stipe Miocic should be the one fighting Daniel Cormier for the UFC heavyweight title.
New York, NY — Heavyweight Tim Johnson will be making his promotional debut at Bellator 208 this weekend, against one of the biggest names possible: Cheick Kongo. It’s the kind of fight Johnson was looking for back when he was plying his trade in the UFC. After signing with Bellator MMA as a free agent, he now enters the mix in the midst of the World Heavyweight Grand Prix, against a fighter many expected to be in the tournament. And though Kongo is not, he’s still on the best run of any fighter in the 265lb weight class.
Johnson told Cageside Press following Thursday’s Bellator 208 Press Conference that the biggest challenge against Kongo was going to be experience. As he pointed out, Kongo enters the night with over 30 fights. “This is fight number 15 for me. Experience-wise, it’s on his side, and he’s got a lot of experience against top-notch, quality opponents,” Johnson explained. “Just dealing with that is probably going to be the biggest problem. Nothing I throw at him is going to be anything he hasn’t seen before, on top of the fact that I don’t do anything flashy anyway. I’m a pretty meat and potatoes kind of guy.”
“This one’s going to probably come down to if he gets one through that lands on the money, or it’s going to be a nice grindy fight,” he added. He won’t bother trying to guess at what to expect, mind you, “because every time you expect how a guy’s going to go, he comes out completely different, and it throws you off.”
As for fighting in New York for the second time in his career, Johnson said that “hopefully this time goes better than the last time I fought here.” Still, the chance to come back out to New York was a big one, and “this time around, there’s going to be more familiarity,” he told us. “Maybe a little home feel to it.”
As to where a win would leave him, Johnson wasn’t sure. Johnson (12-4) enters Bellator 208 off a win over Marcelo Golm at UFC Belem. Cheick Kongo (28–10–2) is on a six fight win streak, and a possible alternate for the heavyweight grand prix. “I don’t even know where it would put me in the division, actually,” Johnson said of what a victory Saturday would do for him.
“A win here would at least put me in conversation with something in the future with the guys that are on the top,” he suggested. “All things said, maybe number six, somewhere around there, if you want to put a number on it. At that point, I’d be happy with that.”
Back in the UFC, Johnson was campaigning for a fight with Derrick Lewis, who was just awarded a title shot against double-champ Daniel Cormier. Asked for his thoughts on the match-up, Johnson had another name in mind. “Stipe. If there was anyone who deserved an instant rematch, it’s Stipe.”
“Heavyweights in the UFC, or any promotion, who can string together that many title defenses, it’s unprecedented,” said Johnson. “It’s heavyweight. One punch, you’re done. And he was able to survive many title defenses.”
“That should have been the one that got an instant rematch,” he stated. “Of all the times they’ve turned around and been like ‘rematch, rematch,’ he was one. But for some reason or other, I don’t think they really like Stipe too much over there. Because he’s not a big draw.”
Don’t miss Tim Johnson taking on Cheick Kongo as part of the Bellator 208 main card on Saturday, October 13 in Uniondale, NY at the Nassau Coliseum.