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Brett Johns Found His Happiness

Despite a finish and performance bonus after a 17-month layoff, it was only recently that Brett Johns found his happiness in the cage

When Brett Johns returned to the Octagon earlier this year after a 17-month layoff, you would think a submission finish and Fight of the Night bonus would be a celebratory moment for the bantamweight.

Johns had other thoughts.

“I don’t particularly think the last performance was very good,” Johns said of his victory over Tony Gravely. “My fingers are crossed I get to right that wrong on Saturday.”

Johns’ sky-high expectations of himself will always be present. But recently he’s developed a newfound mentality and happiness, a happiness that he admits he didn’t even have during his return in January.

He’s anxious to put it on display when he squares off with Montel Jackson at UFC Fight Island 2 on Saturday. 

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“The biggest difference for me has got nothing to do with me physically or my weight. A lot of things have changed during quarantine,” Johns said. “The biggest, massive difference is my happiness and my mental aspect of this game. Seventeen months ago, and even longer than that, this was a 9-5 job for me. I was struggling and I didn’t like training. Now I got my mojo and this is my first fight in the UFC where my mentality is sky high. I hope it comes out and the world gets to see me at my happiest.”

To find this happiness, Johns had to look back at the early days of his career. He realized why he got in this game in the first place: because he loved being a fighter. So when he focused on just enjoying being a fighter and didn’t look at the UFC as a job, the new attitude took over.

“I found it after my January fight,” Johns said. “Why I started this is because I enjoy being a fighter. A lot of my fights in the UFC it was a job and that’s the wrong attitude, looking back.”

Fortunately for Johns, he made the right decision about moving forward with his career when quarantine started. He was originally supposed to fight Jackson in April and when the fight was canceled, he had two options: continue on and hope for a call or take a break and let everything surrounding the pandemic settle.

Johns carried on. He couldn’t afford to lose the momentum of his victory in January. And the training sessions that ensued allowed him to discover his happiness.

“I have so much momentum from January that I wanted to carry that on. I’m glad I made that decision because this is the best I’ve ever looked,” John said. 

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Johns got another boost of momentum on Wednesday when his training partner, Jack Shore, scored a victory at Fight Island. Because of Shore’s scheduled fight, Johns was able to travel to Fight Island a few days earlier. Never having been to that side of the world before, the extra few days of acclimation are making a big difference, Johns said.

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He’ll need to be prepared as possible because there will be no small task ahead of him on Saturday. Montel Jackson has ripped off three consecutive wins since dropping his UFC debut.

“Montel is a dangerous opponent. He has three big wins and has beaten some really good guys,” Johns said. “It’s a tough fight and I don’t expect it will be easy. But I prepare for 15 minutes and for the worst. I see it being a 15-minute hard fight.”

A win for Johns would bring him to 17-2 (5-2 UFC) with his only two losses coming against two of the top contenders (Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz) in the division.

“It would be nice to crack the rankings again,” Johns said. “Ideally and realistically, I’m happy to be wherever. I’m just happy to be that guy who bets on himself.”

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