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Johnson has new vicious mentality and is focused on finishing


HIDALGO, TX - SEPT. 17: Michael Johnson celebrates his knockout victory over Dustin Poirier in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at State Farm Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)After scoring one of the more emphatic knockouts of 2016 when he finished Dustin Poirier in less than two minutes in September, Michael Johnson delivered on what he had promised leading up to the bout and what he’s promising in every fight from here on out.

Judges won’t be necessary.

“The nice guys always finish last, so I’m not being nice now,” Johnson said. “I’ll always be respectful but I have to do something to these guys so the judges don’t have a chance to call it wrong. If I’m doing this to all these opponents, blame it on the judges. Don’t blame it on me. It’s not my fault that I’m treating my opponents this way. The Beneil (Dariush) fight, they didn’t get it right, and the Nate (Diaz) fight was too close to call, so I have to go out there, I have to be violent, I have to finish fights, and my performances are going to speak for themselves.”

“Violent” seems to be the buzzword for the 30-year-old Johnson these days, and as harsh as it may sound, it’s hard to describe the finish of Poirier as anything but that. And though he has no ill intentions toward any opponent, when it’s time to fight, it’s time to fight. Johnson is intent on making a statement every time out these days. In other words, his opponent at UFC 205 on November 12, Khabib Nurmagomedov, needs to be ready.

“I felt like my back was against the wall (against Poirier), and I still feel like that because it’s kind of the same scenario,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s overlooking me, everybody sees this tough opponent, and they’re just counting me out from the beginning, and that’s the wrong thing. I feel disrespected, and when I feel disrespected, there are violent outcomes that come with that. So I’m going to continue to look for a violent finish once again.”

As a fight fan, it’s hard not to like this “new” Michael Johnson. A member of the UFC roster since 2010, the St. Louis native has always had the talent to succeed in the lightweight shark tank, as evidenced by his wins over Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Joe Lauzon and Edson Barboza. But at times he’s also been too patient, both in the Octagon and outside of it.

No more.

“I have waited for my time and now it’s my time, so it’s not time to be patient anymore,” he said. “It’s time to really stake my claim and get what I deserve and do work and take what’s mine.

“Timing is everything, and when it’s your time, it’s your time. A couple years ago or a year ago, it might not have been my time; I might not have been ready for it. But everybody gets their turn, and when it’s my time, I’m going to crush the world. I’m going to do more than shock it. I’ve had my head down, I’ve been working hard and it’s slowly starting to pay off.”

Going for the finish and taking fights out of the judges’ hands aren’t signs that he’s being reckless, though. It’s just the opposite, as Johnson insists that once the Octagon door closes, he’s as cool as can be before it’s time to go to work. And he’s not getting paid for overtime.

“I let all my emotions run out while I’m in training camp or after the fight’s over with, but once the fight starts, I need to stay cool, calm and collected,” he said. “Emotions make you very weak, especially in the fight game, and that’s not a great place to be in. So I try to stay emotionless, go in there and do what I need to do – react fast and get the job done.”