Back to training after a serious shoulder injury, Demetrious Johnson (17-2-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) aims to exhaust John Moraga (12-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) when they meet at UFC on FOX 8, which takes place July 27 at Seattle’s KeyArena.
“I would prefer to go five rounds to see if he can go that far,” Johnson recently said.
A torn labrum forced the UFC flyweight champion to withdraw from a headlining fight this past month against Moraga at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, but it didn’t stop him from staying in shape.
Now, he wants to see whether Moraga has the gas to keep up with him.
“I think my greatest strength is my speed, my conditioning, and my technique,” Johnson said. “A lot of people just rely on finishing people, and they just go in there. If they don’t finish them, they’re f—ed. I don’t like to rely on that, so I’m just going to go out there and do what I do best, which is just move and stick and be good.”
Johnson, a Washington native who now lives in Kirkland, said he learned he could take a stiff punch in his most recent fight, which came against John Dodson at UFC on FOX 6. In the future, though, he’d like to avoid the brawls that do so much damage to their participants.
“I love going five rounds just because I like to see how far this person can push,” he said. “Anybody can knock somebody out. But it takes a real man and a man with balls to go in there and fight 25 minutes all day long.
“Somebody might look at that and think, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have knockout power. Of course he wants to go in there and fight that full length.’ But I just like to get in there and fight.”
Johnson, who attempts his second title defense at the July 27 network-televised event, said he keeps tabs on the criticism that floats around the Internet, and there are a few who say he’s not lighting in a bottle. But he pays far greater attention to keeping his career afloat in a highly unstable business, and he makes sure to do everything he needs to do to secure his future.
Recently, he bought an investment property to provide him income when the fight checks stop coming.
“People tell me, ‘Oh, being the champ must be treating you good,’ but you’ve got to understand that this is a combination of fighting full-time and working full-time,” said Johnson, who’s been a full-time fighter for less than two years. “After I win my fights, I don’t buy a brand new car and just splurge. I put my money in the bank and pay Uncle Sam.
“My saying is, ‘EFD – Every F—ing Day.’ I wake up, go to the gym, train my butt off to pay bills. That’s what I do. I’m always going to be motivated to get ready for a fight because this is what I do, this is my career, and this provides for my family.”
Johnson said he’s already put in work on figuring out Moraga, who’s won his past seven fights, including two in the octagon.
“We watched video on him, and we basically have him dissected,” Johnsomn said. “He’s a great competitor. He’s only lost once, and that was against Dodson, and that was prior to the UFC. Other than that, he’s put on some great fights, so I look forward to getting in there.”
Then, Johnson plans to drive right back home to his wife, Destiny, who by UFC on FOX 8 should be 11 days removed from giving birth to their son. If all goes well in training camp, he should have plenty of energy for daddy-duty.
“If I get out there and I get tired, I’m going to be pissed at myself and my coach is going to be pissed at me, and it’s not going to be a good night,” Johnson said.
For the latest on UFC on FOX 8, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.