Michael Johnson is hoping to continue his featherweight resurgence later this evening (Sat., Oct. 27, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 138 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, when he takes on veteran striker Artem Lobov.
For Johnson, this is an opportunity to flip the script and build off of his 3-5 UFC record since the beginning of 2015. His recent misfortunes happen to include a 2016 submission loss to current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. If “Menace” is able to take care of business at 145 pounds then he has no qualms about moving back up and meeting Khabib in a potential rematch.
“I wasn’t comfortable in that fight, and I still hurt him,” Johnson told MMAjunkie earlier this week. “I was thinking about his wrestling. But keep this in mind, and this is for sure: I will face Khabib again, and this time it’s going to be a different scenario. I’m working my way back up to that lightweight division because three of the top five guys I’ve beaten. It’s definitely on my mind, and he’s definitely back in my mind to get that fight again. So once I get done with my business at ’45, we’re going to be seeing him shortly.”
Despite his drop down to featherweight earlier this year, the former lightweight contender has still struggled to regain his dominant form. Luckily, Johnson was given the opportunity to step up on two weeks notice and challenge “Russian Hammer” in tonight’s co-main event. Johnson may have missed weight by one pound, but he’s in Moncton ready to roll.
“I got the call, I was like 175 (pounds) or something like that,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘Ah 30 pounds.’ I was like, ‘OK, screw it. Let’s go.’ It just happened. My weight started coming off, and it felt good. Literally within a week-and-a-half, two weeks, I had just as good as a camp as somebody with a six-to-eight-week camp. I got sick, I got hurt, I was going through tough times, I was getting stressed out. All that combined within two weeks was a lot, but I feel good, I feel great. I’m ready to perform.”
As for the fight itself, Johnson and Lobov are likely to turn in one of the best bouts of the evening. They both possess fan-friendly fighting styles and should have no issues slinging heavy leather from the opening bell.
It’s not the type of fight that’s going to launch “Menace” to the front of the divisional pack, but it’s a matchup that will ultimately reveal Johnson’s evolution at 145 pounds.
“That’s one of the reasons I took this fight, because of his following and the big hype that he has around him,” Johnson said. “It’s perfect position for me to get in here, get a big win, get a statement, and then some hype starts coming around my name name. I don’t think anyone has finished him. He went five rounds with Cub (Swanson), and Cub’s been a top-five featherweight for years. He’s one of the greatest. So I come in here and finish this guy, nobody has done it, and there’s going to be some talking.”
If Johnson is able to become the first fighter to finish Lobov in UFC competition it should go a long way in earning the 32-year-old a high-profile bout his next time out.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 138 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1