Tim Johnson played the role of spoiler Saturday at Bellator Paris, and played it well. The only way his main event fight with Cheick Kongo could have gone better would have been a finish. And Johnson nearly had that near the end of the opening round, as he delivered punch after punch to the head of Kongo as the French heavyweight tried in vain to cover up.
There’s a good argument to be made that the fight could have been stopped there. Kongo wasn’t exactly intelligently defending himself. The ref certainly took a good look at the sequence. Somehow, Kongo managed to get through it.
“I honestly think if his jaw hadn’t hurt my hand, I probably would have been able to finish it,” said Johnson post-fight, only half-joking. “The pain was excruciating.”
Johnson was sporting a brace after the bout, just to underline how painful it was. “He doesn’t have any quit in him. I think some of those blows would have made lesser men [quit], just take a couple more punches and finish the fight there.”
Instead, it went the distance, but the outcome was in Johnson’s favor. He’s now won three in a row, with Tyrell Fortune and Matt Mitrione his other recent conquests. Those names would appear to be enough to get Johnson to a title shot. Although with Johnson and Kongo having one win apiece, there’s also the idea of a rubber match.
“I want to be a little selfish here and say he can wait til after me and Bader fight,” replied Johnson when asked about a trilogy fight. “I’d like to have that opportunity first.”
If that means waiting for heavyweight champ Ryan Bader to be ready, he’ll do just that, Johnson added. “I might be a little selfish right now, but I think I’ve done enough to earn it. Maybe I haven’t, like you said, politics. MMA is kind of weird like that sometimes,” the heavyweight noted. But as he sees it, “all throughout my career, I’ve been a Yes Man, Company Man. I’ve always said yes to everything.”
Which means it’s time to reap the benefits. “I think it’s not bad maybe now for me to be a little bit of a No Man, a little selfish like I said.”
At least depending on how long it takes. Johnson doesn’t want to wait a year, he admitted, but anything less, and it feels like he’s ready to hold out for that title shot. “I think I’ve done enough, but then maybe not. Maybe some people will think otherwise.”
Watch the full Bellator Europe 10 post-fight press scrum with Tim Johnson above.