If you had told Johnny “Hollywood” Case a few years ago that he would be undefeated in the UFC going into his fourth bout with the world’s number one MMA organization, he might have said “that would be nice.”
But such is the case for the Jefferson, Iowa native fighting out of Arizona’s Power MMA as he gets set to face Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Yan Cabral in Sao Paulo on Saturday night on the UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs Henderson card on FOX Sports 1.
“I was really excited when (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva called me and said welcome to the UFC, but it is a little surprising that I’m 3-0 in the UFC right now,” he said. “However, that’s only looking at it as a whole. But when I look at it fight by fight, I am not surprised at all because each fight I knew what I needed to do to win, and each of those fights I wasn’t at all shocked that I won. I was prepared, and always take the necessary precautions to ensure my victory. That said, yeah, being 3-0 in the UFC lightweight division is pretty awesome.”
In Cabral, Case faces perhaps his stiffest test in a veteran who is known for his powerful ground game.
“I have been focusing on my bottom game, getting up, standing up and working on my submission defense, but that said, I don’t prepare for what he’s going to be good at more than I prepare for what I’m good at,” Case said. “I did some work on what he’s good at, but then I moved on and honed the things I’m great at, so that I will be ready to do the damage instead of defending it. I believe 100 percent that wrestling beats jiu-jitsu nine out of ten times. You’re not going to submit me when I am dominating you on the ground.”
At just 26 years old, Case is a father of two boys and has things in perspective, despite being a professional fighter who fights in front of millions of fans for a living.
“I take it one step at a time and I know that if I put in the work the product should come out as expected,” he said. “Come Saturday night, I know that I’ve done everything that is in my power to prepare, and if I do that there is no stress, there is only joy and excitement for me at that point.”
Case says his favorite lightweight fighter is Donald Cerrone, because he’s an “old fashioned kick your ass kind of guy,” but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t face “Cowboy” if he was holding the belt.
“I look up to Cerrone,” he said. “But I 100 percent believe that I will be the UFC champion one day. Right now, when I look at where I started out to where I am today, it makes me believe that anything is achievable. This first couple of years I am going to stay focused on a getting some wins, seeing the world a little bit with traveling, building my fan base and having some fun along the way. But when the time is right I will make a run for that title.”
Case says he has his own basic outline for his career, but is open to learning lessons from other fighters that he might otherwise have to learn the hard way. To hear him tell it, there is always some value in studying how others have mapped their routes, but every situation is different.
“I’m not Cowboy; I’m Johnny Case and I’m going to do what I’m doing and I am excited to be on this path,” he said.
As for fighting Cabral on his home turf, Case is as logical as an accountant on tax day.
“I have never been to Brazil but I’m super pumped to go. It’s going to be a pretty awesome experience. I am not too worried about the crowd. I’m not there to fight the crowd, I’m only there to fight one man. They can hoot and holler and say whatever they want, but it won’t affect me one bit. I’m going to perform and get my hand raised and then come home to the good old U.S. of A.”