LAS VEGAS – Michael Johnson’s brutal knockout victory over Gleison Tibau on the prelims of UFC 168 wasn’t just for him, though of course it was nice to win his second consecutive fight in the UFC.
As an added bonus, he added another one to the win column for his team in Boca Raton, Fla., known in MMA circles as the “Blackzilians.” After a string of losses, the team came under fire, and Johnson thinks he knows why.
“I think it was because we got so much attention when we first came on the scene,” Johnson told reporters after the bout. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to see what they’re doing.’ Then a great team starts losing and everybody wants to badmouth them and talk. But we didn’t do anything different. I think the main thing that’s been helping us is we’re not getting a lot attention. We’ve been able to work and get back to the basics and do our thing and win fights.”
Against Tibau (28-10 MMA, 13-8 UFC), Johnson (14-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) said he got hit more than he wanted to, especially since he said he considers the Brazilian “a slow lightweight.” But he managed to stay away from the takedowns, which in turn helped him set up the big left hand that decided the matter at the 1:32 mark of Round 2.
“I was expecting him to shoot as soon as the round started,” Johnson said. “I think he really had problems with finding me. He couldn’t set up his shots, I was moving too much for him, and that was a huge part of our game plan. I froze him and got him a little confused and it led to a knockout.”
As for the detractors of the Blackzilians, who are surely still out there somewhere, Johnson acknowledged that it’s not easy to hear his team criticized.
“It is hard,” Johnson said. “Of course you’re always going to listen to the critics and the people badmouthing you, but at the same time, you’ve just got to throw it out the window. Hard work pays off. Results matter. That’s all that matters. Everybody can talk all they want, but at the end of the day we’re winning fights and moving up.”
For complete coverage of UFC 168, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
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