Brett Johns credits his brother, and a trip to Vegas, with salvaging his fighting career.
Raleigh, NC — Any layoff of over a year or more can be concerning for a professional athlete. Whether or not you believe in ring rust, there’s enough anecdotal evidence of fighters struggling after lengthy stretches away. That was what Brett Johns was looking at ahead of UFC Raleigh.
Johns, however, got the job done Saturday, submitting newcomer Tony Gravely. “Newcomer” is a bit of a misnomer in this case, as Gravely was a veteran of the regional scene, and a former CES MMA champion.
Champion is something that Johns had becoming used to be called. “To be honest, before my losses in the UFC, I was associated as a champ,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press following his victory Saturday, which improved him to 16-2. “People called me champ. Growing up where I wasn’t good at certain sports, it was a blessing being called champ. I loved it, I absolutely loved it.”
Then he ran into a number of roadblocks, inside and outside of the octagon. “Actually, one of the guys who beat me first, it was Aljamain Sterling who was in the front row. It was nice to see Aljamain, and I wish him all the best in his career, but coming off the Aljamain fight, it felt like it wasn’t me in there,” Johns explained. “That killed me most of all.”
Next, Johns “fought Pedro Munhoz, three or four months later, same story there.”
Then came the injuries. MCL, LCL. He was forced out of fights. “It was a tough road, especially when you’re associated with winning.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. “On a personal level, life was good last year,” he said. Still, not being able to compete (and at a high level) had him down. “I did this sport for one reason. I did this sport before anything come along. My girlfriend has put up with a lot, she can see the highs and the lows.” His family, he said, has put up with a lot as well.
“It’s very nice to be here in the winner’s circle once more,” he stated.
Had he not captured the win Saturday, Johns isn’t sure if he would have walked away or not. “I’ve been on the brink of calling it a day with this sport,” he admitted. But at the same time, he added, “I’m only a young man in this sport.”
“My brother actually saved my career,” he later revealed. “My brother said ‘look, we need to spend three weeks in Vegas.’ I’m a 35’er, I was walking around at 170 full of alcohol and stuff. My brother said ‘look I’m going to take you to Vegas, we’re going to stay a few weeks, and get a kick start.’ Subconsciously I didn’t think it was a problem at the time, until I went up to Vegas, and come home, and realized I was in a bad way. So my brother saved my career, and to this day I’m forever in his debt.”
Watch the full UFC Raleigh post-fight press scrum with Brett Johns above!