UFC Philadelphia: Josh Emmett Puzzled by Michael Johnson Bringing Up Knockouts, Suggests He Hits Hardest at Team Alpha Male

Heading into UFC Philadelphia, Josh Emmett reflected on the road to recovery, getting big fights, and Michael Johnson’s curious comments about Emmett not being a knockout artist — something he never claimed to be.

Wilmington, DE — It has been a long road back for UFC featherweight Josh Emmett. In February 2018 at UFC Orlando, Emmett took on his greatest test to date in Jeremy Stephens. The fight did not go Emmett’s way, ending in a second round knockout. Worse, the finish left him with severe injuries, including a fractured  lateral orbital, orbital wall, and nasal bone. Plus his maxillary sinus (basically cheek) had essentially caved in. Emergency surgery and a long recovery was ahead. Now, at UFC Philadelphia, the long road back comes to an end.

“I feel good. I’m excited to be back,” a positive-sounding Emmett said Thursday at the event’s media day. “Man, I’ve missed this. It’s been thirteen months. It’s just time, it’s been way too long, that’s all I can say.”

The last time Emmet fought, ESPN wasn’t in the picture. Now, he’s appearing at UFC on ESPN 2. Much has changed. Especially for a fighter that likes to stay active. “In a sense, it’s surreal, just because I don’t feel like I’m fighting because it’s been so long. If you go back to when I was fighting in 2017 at the end of the year, I had three fights in four months, so I was super active.” If all goes well this weekend, and he comes away from the Johnson fight healthy, the plan is to get at least three fights per year moving forward.

Little injuries, plus the well-publicized major one against Jeremy Stephens at UFC Orlando last year, have prevented that to date. “A little challenging” is how Emmett put it, but ultimately, he wants to stay as active as possible and get a few fights in 2019.

Emmett had a fair amount of hype behind him before that injury derailed things. When it came time to plot his return, he told Cageside Press on Thursday, “I had to be smart about it.”

“I wanted to hop back in there, but I’ve said this before, you see it time and time again, people have a bad injury or concussion, they come back too soon, get another one, and then their career is over,” he explained. “I didn’t want that to happen to me, because I feel like I have a lot of things to accomplish still.”

“Even though with my age, I’m getting older, I still want to maximize these next, who knows, four or five years,” he added. He’s 34, but time is different in the lower weight classes. Fighters don’t compete into their 40s the way they do at, say, heavyweight. “If I’m healthy and I’m feeling great and doing well, I’ll continue to fight,” he said.

Coming back now against Michael Johnson, said Emmett, “I’m excited. I want to fight big name guys. I want to fight big names or people that are ranked in front of me. I was offered someone that was ranked in front of me. I took it, unfortunately he got injured or something happened. That’s the fight game, it happens all the time.”

The UFC then “threw out a few other names, they were behind me, big up and comers. Good fighters. But I felt like a win over them does nothing for me. But I feel like a win over Michael Johnson, he’s such a big name, big following. He’s fought some of the best, beat the best. I feel like it puts me right back in the mix.”

At featherweight, where things are wide open, that’s certainly possible. Beyond that, “this is a fight that motivated the hell out of me just because I know how good he is, and it makes me work that much harder,” Emmett said.

Ahead of the fight this weekend, Michael Johnson aired doubts about whether Josh Emmett was a knockout guy. Emmett, for one, is puzzled by that talk.

“Did I ever say I was a knockout artist?” he questioned when Cageside Press asked about the comments. “I’ve never said that. But I do have one punch power, in every strike I throw. What I did say is, if I land one clean shot — and you ask anyone at the gym who hits the hardest on the team [Team Alpha Male], I guarantee nine out of ten will say me. So we’ll see. Especially with those four ounce gloves, anything can happen.”

Not one to talk, Emmett downplayed the idea of the comments bothering him. “You won’t catch me trash talking people and stuff like that. We’ll fight Saturday and we’ll find out.”