With his return to action imminent, featherweight standout Josh Emmett reveals his prediction for Holloway vs. Poirier, and previews his newly announced fight with Michael Johnson. Plus, a Chad Mendes update.
UFC on ESPN 2: Barboza vs. Gaethje got a little more interesting earlier this week, as the UFC announced Josh Emmett (13-2) would face-off against Michael Johnson (19-13), who’s currently riding a two fight win streak. In addition, Ray Borg will also make return vs. Pingyuan Liu.
After over a year away from the octagon, Emmett has recovered from multiple facial fractures suffered in his February 2018 bout with Jeremy Stephens, where he lost via a brutal, controversial knockout. Prior to that, it was Emmett who was on the giving end of a devastating knockout, putting top-ranked Ricardo Lamas to sleep before he hit the canvas.
Ahead of his fight on March 30 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cageside Press spoke with Josh, who gave us a preview of his fight with Johnson, prediction for Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier, an update on teammate Chad Mendes, and more.
“It’s an exciting match-up for me,” Emmett said of his newly announced opponent. “It’s what gets me kind of motivated.”
Emmett was looking exclusively for people ranked ahead of him, or at least bigger names for his return to action. “I did get offered somebody that was ranked a little above me, I took the fight, that was going to go down, but he ended up getting injured or something,” Emmett revealed. Following that, “they threw out Michael Johnson’s name, I took it.”
“He’s a seasoned veteran, I think he has like twenty UFC fights,” Emmett pointed out. When it comes to Johnson, “he’s been around for a long time. He’s fought some of the top guys at lightweight, he was ranked really high up there. I think he’s beat three of the top five at lightweight.”
“It’s going to be an exciting fight for the fans, and that’s why I wanted to take it,” he added. Plus, of course, Johnson is a name.
Listen below for our full interview with UFC Philadelphia’s Josh Emmett, where he touches on the ESPN deal, Poirier vs. Holloway, and the recent resurgence of tournaments in MMA.
Noting the severity of the injuries he suffered last year, Emmett told us that “I didn’t want to come back too soon, just because we’ve seen this in the past, where people come back too soon after they suffer like bad concussions, and they happen again, and that runs their career. So I wanted to take the necessary time off so I could fully heal and recover.”
“I’ve been back in the gym since November,” he continued. “I was helping Chad get ready for his fight.” In the end, he feels now that “it’s been plenty of time off.” And there’s a concern that, with his age, his window is getting “smaller and smaller.”
Speaking of Mendes, Emmett later pointed out that “he never even said anything about retirement. That was just put out somewhere, and then people were like ‘what is this about?’ I didn’t even know where that came from. He’s just kind of— he’s going to have a baby on the way, he’s just been doing a lot of stuff getting ready for that. He has his Fins and Feathers company that he’s been doing really well with.”
As Emmett noted, Mendes is a busy guy, but he’s still training even when he’s not in the gym. And could he be back in the gym after the baby arrives? Time will tell.
As for Josh Emmett, the plan moving forward, if all goes well, is to fight three times this year. Having given himself the personal time required for his comeback, Emmett will look to make a statement, not only on March 30, but in 2019 as a whole.
UFC Philadelphia (UFC on ESPN 2) goes down March 30 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. What are your picks for Josh Emmett vs. Michael Johnson? Let us know in the comments below.