Michael Johnson is making the move down to 145-pounds and he’s excited about the new opportunities that the UFC featherweight division presents him.
Two months ago, Johnson was involved in one of the fights of the year so far when he took on Justin Gaethje at The Ultimate Fighter Season 25 Finale. It was a titanic battle between the two, but Johnson ended up losing the fight in the second round after nearly finishing the fight himself in the first round.
Speaking to reporters this past weekend at UFC Rotterdam, Johnson explained that he’s moving down to 145-pounds in an attempt to meet some new faces.
“It’s always been a thought in my head to drop down,” Johnson said. “Regardless of how I was doing in this division, win or lose. It was kinda a plan of mine to drop down to 145 touch the waters [then] come back to 55.
“I’ve fought everybody in top ten in 55 and I fought numerous people. I just wanted some new matchups, some new faces and to see how I react there. It’s nothing to do with the fact that I lost against Justin. 145 has always been a thought in my mind.”
When he announced the news at the UFC Rotterdam fighter Q&A on Friday, Johnson mentioned that he’d like to fight Jose Aldo. He added on Saturday that the Brazilian is an appealing matchup for him, but he wasn’t ruling out any of the other big names at featherweight.
“The next toughest guy in line,” Johnson said, responding to a question about who he wanted if Aldo wasn’t available. “I think that maybe it’s been to the detriment of my career sometimes that I also go for the toughest fights. I think my first fight at 45, Aldo is a former champion and one of the best in the world, he’s always been, so that’s a guy I would love to fight.
“I’m not in this sport to fight the guy that’s ok. I want the toughest guy and I want the guy that everybody says that can’t be beat because I like proving people wrong sometimes.”
Johnson added that the UFC were happy with his decision to move down to featherweight, but that he hadn’t decided on his gameplan to lose the extra 10-pounds.
“They’re up for it,” Johnson said, regarding the UFC. “I think that we have a really good relationship because I put on good fights. Fingers crossed that a big fight comes in at 45. In order for me to make that drop it has to be a big fight. It’s going to be quite a bit of weight for me.
“I’ve been in Amsterdam for like four days man and I’ve been eating ice cream, cakes and candy,” Johnson said smiling. “I haven’t thought about how I’m going to get down after this, but I’ll get down someway, somehow.”
When asked about a target date for his first fight at featherweight, Johnson implied that he’d like to look towards the end of the year.
“I was looking forward towards December,” Johnson said. “November got brought up so we will have to see. We will have to see and see where they can fit me in.”