Tim Johnson has the unenviable task of fighting Fedor Emelianenko at home in Moscow at Bellator 269 on Saturday. But despite heading into enemy territory, Johnson said earlier this week that he actually embraces playing spoiler.
“How many people get to experience stuff like that? That’s how I look at it,” said Johnson, noting that there aren’t a lot of fighters who can say they’ve fought a Russian (let alone a Russian legend) in Russia.
Besides which, Johnson (15-7) has always wanted to visit the nation, something he admitted raises eyebrows when he tells people. “The one place I’ve always wanted to go visit was Russia,” he said during this week’s Bellator 269 media day. “So it’s kind of killing two birds with one stone, coming over here, fighting, and I get to see the country that I’ve always wanted to travel to.”
After exploring the city a little, Johnson added, “it hasn’t disappointed yet.”
A lot could be riding on a win over Fedor Emelianenko this weekend. And Johnson at the very least has a rough sketch of where he wants to go, career-wise, after the fight.
“I’ve got kind of something, you should always have somewhat of a plan,” said Johnson, who went on to admit that even with a win over Fedor, “I don’t know if that gets me right back into title contention, maybe I have another fight.”
One option Johnson has in mind is an old foe. “Maybe me and Cheick [Kongo] go a third time. I also don’t know what’s happening with [Vitaly] Minakov and that contract, when he’s fighting from here on out. So maybe after this fight, we have a number one contender fight. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Ryan Bader and [Valentin] Moldavsky.”
Moldavsky holds interim gold, which he won opposite Johnson earlier this year. Bader holds the heavyweight crown itself, but was recently knocked out of the light heavyweight grand prix.
If he comes up short against “The Last Emperor,” Johnson foresees a possible Fedor title shot. “On the other side of things, if things don’t go my way and Fedor gets a win on me, Moldavsky might step back and let Fedor fight for the title, put a bow on it for him.”
On Saturday’s match-up, Johnson told Cageside Press that “Fedor, he’s a power puncher. He’s got good explosions. First, if you do manage to take him down, he’s got good explosions on the bottom to get into a scramble position.” In terms of training, he looked at the fight as on “the feet, fence, and ground,” and prepared to be in all three positions come Saturday.
Watch the full Bellator 269 media day appearance from Tim Johnson above. The event takes place this Saturday, October 23 at the VTB Arena in Moscow, Russia. More coverage can be found below.