Dec 28, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gleison Tibau (red gloves) and Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during their UFC Featherweight Bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Johnson won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Johnson: 'I want to be the #1 contender and fighting for that title'

This weekend, at UFC Fight Night 37, Michael Johnson steps up on short notice to take on Melvin Guillard in the co-main event of the evening. Johnson is currently on a two fight winning streak, and is continually looking more improved each time out.

I recently sat down with Johnson to discuss his upcoming bout with Guillard, responding to some of Guillard’s comments, taking short notice fights, and much more.

How he is feeling going into UFC Fight Night 37

Im feeling good. I took the fight on short notice which is good for me. I am always in shape and always training. Just got done fighting in December, so I am still ready to go. I am anxious and hungry. I also get to fight Melvin which is fun. I can’t wait to go there and fight him. I have been looking forward to this fight for a while actually.

How he got the bout in the first place

I was on vacation and my manager called me and said ‘Hey I got a question for you. Do you want to fight Melvin?’ I said ‘Of course, absolutely I want to fight Melvin. When, on the March card? He said ‘Ya, I will tell Joe Silva about it’. I came back and it was a wrap.

Taking a short notice fight

You feel rushed at times. At the same time, we are always training and ready. Regardless of the amount of time you have it is still just a fight. You are going to go in there and fight. People always say ‘Oh I am not prepared, I need time to work on this or that’. I want to look up and say ‘we have three weeks before the fight? Okay, let’s go train and then fight’. I think people look at too many things that don’t matter. This is just a fight.

What he attests his recent winning streak to

I really don’t think that I improved. A lot of people will look at my last two fights and say ‘Oh he improved by doing this and that’. I don’t look at it that way. In reality, I got my head out of my ass. I won three in a row and I thought nobody could beat me, especially the two guys that I lost to. Obviously that really pissed me off, it struck a fire under me and I got my head back in the game, stopped screwing around, and got extremely serious on how I need to be. Then here I come beating Joe (Lauzon) very decisively and then knocking out Gleison Tibau, who has not been KO’ed in eight years. It just goes to show when I am not messing around in the gym and when I am really serious the damage that I can do.

His thoughts on his time on The Ultimate Fighter

I loved the exposure the show got me. A lot of people say that it may not be the best way to get into the UFC based on the contract, but at the same time it does not really matter. It is all about getting into the UFC and fighting. To learn from Georges (St-Pierre), it was great. He didn’t really look at himself as a coach. Instead he was more like a training partner and brought his coaches in. Georges is more of a friend and training partner than a coach. I have always looked up to him and respect him. I would just sit down and take as much knowledge from him as I could. That was the best thing about Georges on TUF. Not only did he show you how to be a great fighter, but also how to be a good person outside of the cage that helped my mindset a lot.

His goals for 2014

I want to be the #1 contender and fighting for that title by the end of this year. It is very possible after a win over Melvin, which is what I am planning to do. I am not looking past Melvin, I don’t even know who I would want to fight or when or where. It is all about Melvin right now. Once I step out of that cage with the victory, then it is on to the next one.

His reaction to Melvin’s comments

That is funny man. He can call me a douche, or say I am this or that type of person. It comes down to this; he has never said that to my face, and he never will say that to my face because he knows what will happen if he does. He knows there will be a problem. He can say that to the cameras and in interviews, but man to man he will never say it and I will be waiting for him to say it to my face. With that being said, Melvin is going to be Melvin. He was on the team for a little bit. I helped him, I wanted him to succeed because he was a teammate. He is a good fighter, of course everybody knows Melvin can fight. I got the utmost- it is hard for me to say that I respect somebody that said something about me like that, so I won’t say that I have all the respect in the world for him. I respect him as a fighter, and we are going to fight and we will see how it is. I am not going to say we are great friends, and to him it doesn’t sound like were friends at all. That is okay with me because I have got enough friends and I don’t need any new ones. I will let Melvin talk and run his mouth and sell the fight. I have no problem with Melvin, we are going to go in there and fight.

His reaction to Melvin saying he would get the better of him in training

(Laughs) If he says he beat me up, I will let him say he beat me up. I will let other people tell that story and see how it goes. I am not one to brag and run around saying ‘oh I did this, oh I did that’. The people that know are all that matters. For Melvin to say I was afraid of him in practice and he beat my ass in practice, I will go ahead and say that that is a lie. Of course he was the bigger guy, because Melvin is a bigger 155’er. Of course sometimes he was stronger than me because I was training all week and he wasn’t. He would train once a week. I am not worried about Melvin. When he actually showed up to practice, we practiced.

His gameplan going into this fight

You always game plan to go into a fight and see the easiest way you could win. The easiest way I could win would be to take him down and submit him. At the same time I am a bull headed fighter and I usually don’t take the easy way. As you can tell, I chose fighting as a career, which is certainly not the easiest career path you could take. I am not for taking easy ways out. If the option presents itself, however, I would absolutely take a submission win.

The possibility of Jose Aldo moving up to Lightweight

I welcome him with open arms. I would love for Aldo to come up here and mix it up with the 55’ers. He will know the difference when he is in here with the bigger guys. It is also a way more stacked division than the 45ers, and I am not taking anything away from those guys as they are great athletes and fighters. At the same time, there are a lot more tough guys at 155 then 145. It is interesting. I think Pettis is going to be beat him if they fight. Maybe Aldo will stay at 155 and then I could fight him soon, which is definitely okay with me.

Tags: Anthony Pettis Dana White Fight Pass Georges St-Pierre Jose Aldo Melvin Guillard Michael Johnson MMA UFC UFC Fight Night 37

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