Welcome to the UFC: Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson, UFC London
Charles Johnson, UFC London Ceremonial Weigh-In, July 22, 2022 Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Muhammad Mokaev (6-0) is one of the most promising prospects among all weight classes in the UFC. He made his UFC debut last March and beat Cody Durden in under a minute with a guillotine. Riding high off a win and a Performance Of The Night bonus, he is now welcoming newcomer Charles Johnson to the UFC in Johnson’s debut. Johnson is a former LFA flyweight champion and a winner of his last four.

Charles “InnerG” Johnson
Standing at 5’9″
Fighting at 125 lbs (flyweight)
Fighting out of St. Louis, Missouri, US
Training out of St. Charles MMA and Tiger Muay Thai
A pro record of 11-2
5 KO/TKOs, 3 Submissions

How will Johnson fare in the UFC:

Johnson has been a top-level flyweight for years but had setbacks that put off his career a little bit. Also, a stint in the sweet science for two years kept him away from MMA while he focused on his boxing career.

The two fights he has lost in MMA are to a lockdown grappler in Sean Santella and Brandon Royval who is ranked #5 in the UFC. Since his boxing stint, Johnson turned up his game in MMA winning his last four fights. He beat a good Yuma Horiuchi to win the LFA title. In his most recent fight, he defended his title for a second time against another good prospect, Carlos Mota.

If every MMA fight was five rounds, there aren’t many that would beat Johnson. As he said in his last post-fight interview, he starts fast and finishes faster. He fights at a high pace; not so much volume as to waste energy but busy enough to be able to store his energy. To beat Johnson you have got to outpace him and that’s a tough feat. He’s been rocked and wobbled but never put away and has been taken down but always gets back up. In a three-round fight, a lot of pressure and mixing in takedowns is probably the way to beat Johnson.

Johnson is a big flyweight that has excellent distance management. So to get on the inside to do any kind of damage is easier said than done. Johnson uses a variety of kicks and the jab to maintain his distance. He’ll actively throw the front kick to the midsection to set the tone of the fight. Johnson frequently switches stances and does a fine job of not staying stationary with his movement. Johnson is a technical striker but does like to stand and trade at times. He does get hit a lot but in the same sense rolls with punches really well. His time at Tiger Muay Thai has really turned his stand-up a notch higher. His calf kicks are nasty and his inside work with his knees and elbows is nasty. His time in boxing has sharpened his hands even more. Johnson’s jab, his hand fighting, angles, and bodywork are all qualities he has in his strong arsenal.

Johnson does get taken down but he gets back up. If not he does well off his back and he uses his length and leverage to create scrambles. Johnson is not to be slept on when on the mat and if caught sleeping he’ll make you pay with a front head headlock, mainly the d’arce. I do think a heavy wrestler could hold him down long enough to win minutes on the cards. When you’re talking about winning moments that speaks volumes about what Johnson brings to the table.

I like Johnson a lot and he is a future top 15 flyweight. He has a good size for the weight class and a deep gas tank, making him a nightmare for a lot of these other 125ers. I wish he was younger but his ceiling is very high.

How he matches up with Mokaev:

Mokaev is the big favorite and as I understand that with all the hype behind Mokaev, but the line is too wide.

Both these guys are very well-rounded. Johnson I favor more on the feet with his technical striking, distance control, and range. Mokaev is more explosive but isn’t going to catch Johnson with anything flush I don’t think. Mokaev is a better wrestler and with his positional grappling and ground and pound he could give Johnson problems. Johnson is no slouch on the mat and his size could make it difficult to hold Johnson down.

I have no doubt Mokaev can take Johnson down but I don’t see him being able to keep him down. I really like Johnson for the upset. I like his size, movement, more weapons on the feet, and I think his gas tank is much better.