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| | Meet "The Ultimate Fighter 12" cast: Michael Johnson, a producer's worst nightmare
Meet "The Ultimate Fighter 12" cast: Michael Johnson, a producer's worst nightmare | MMAjunkie.com
"The Ultimate Fighter 12" cast member Michael Johnson describes his fighting style as a nonstop, in-your-face attack that breaks the will of his opponents. |
When it came to passing the reality-show's interview gauntlet, he applied that style to Spike TV producers - at least verbally.
After two unsuccessful attempts at getting a spot on the show, he promised them he would keep coming back until they put him on.
"I think they were like [expletive], 'Hell with it, let's put him in and see what he's about,'" Johnson, a lightweight out of Springfield Fight Club in Springfield, Mo., told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com). "'We're getting tired of seeing this guy.'"
It was a big difference from tryouts he attended prior to the show's eighth and ninth seasons. He did everything he was supposed to do and actually made it to the final round of interviews in Las Vegas for "TUF 8." Just steps away from his dream, producers said he "wouldn't be a right fit in the house" and passed. That chafed a bit.
"If anything, it made me train harder," he said. "It made me fight hard, and get my game where [it needed] to be, so when the time came, I was the best fighter I could be."
Still, he resolved to make a strong impression during the "personality" portion of season 11's tryouts, which took place in April in Charlotte, N.C.
"I pretty much went in there this time and told then what the [expletive] was going on," Johnson (8-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) said. "(I said), 'I've been getting tired of chasing you [expletive] around the country. I'm here; I'm not going to go anywhere.
"'If you guys don't pick me, I'm going to try out again. I'm still going to be winning fights. I'm still going to be training hard.'"
That turned out to be just the ticket, and before he knew it, he was on his way to Vegas. But that wasn't the end of the gauntlet. He still had to win an elimination-round fight to earn a spot in the house.
He got the tough, rangy Pablo Garza, and he used his wrestling to dominate the fight for a unanimous decision.
"I actually broke him," Johnson said. "You can tell I wanted it more than he did. I wasn't going to let anybody take that away from me, especially because it was the most important fight - to get into the house and solidify yourself.
"I would have rather had a knockout or a submission, but a win's a win. I did what I had to do."
Johnson said he'll turn the intensity back up during the show. He said that approach has kept him grounded; he admits that without MMA, he probably would be fighting in the streets.
Turmoil came into his life at age 10 when his father died suddenly of a heart attack, and he took his rage out with his fists.
"Fighting (in MMA) keeps me under control," Johnson said. "It keeps me out of trouble. It keeps my head focused, where I have something to work for. I don't have any time to get into dumb [expletive], which is good."
He's also gained perspective about that time in his life.
"I lost something, a huge part of me," Johnson said. "Fighting was my way of not dealing with my dad's passing. Now that I think of it, of course, it was the wrong thing to do, especially putting all that burden on my mom having to deal with it."
Now that he's finally on the show, he's got his eye on a UFC contract as the first step in giving back to his mom.
"To better my family, and to get my mom to where she doesn't have to work any more, and she can have the relaxing type of life," he said of his goals.
And he'll keep getting in people's faces until that's a reality.
MMAjunkie.com interviewed all 14 of "The Ultimate Fighter 12's" preliminary round winners, each of whom was featured in the debut episode of "TUF 12: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck." Two new interviews will be released each day from now until the season's second episode airs next Wednesday at 10 p.m. PT/ET on Spike TV. Full series coverage can be found on "The Ultimate Fighter 12" page.
Michael Johnson Talks Team GSP, Teammate 'Bruce Leroy' http://www.mmafighting.com/2010/09/2...e-bruce-leroy/
But even though Koscheck had the first pick, it was St. Pierre who used a little deception to trick Koscheck into bypassing Johnson when the two picked their teams. That resulted in Johnson going to Team GSP, which is where he said he wanted to go. |
In an interview with MMAFighting.com, Johnson talked about how he felt learning that St. Pierre wanted him above all the other fighters, and about some friction with his teammate, Alex "Bruce Leroy" Cacares, who won the fight on the second episode of Season 12.
Michael David Smith: You said you were hoping to fight on GSP's team, rather than Koscheck's team. Why was that?
Just because he's one of the best fighters in the world. He and I have also both trained in some of the same Gracie Barra jiu jitsu programs and I like that background.
MDS-How happy were you to be GSP's first pick?
It made me feel really good. I was definitely surprised. I was nervous going into the picks. I had a little bit of a feeling I might be able to be the first person taken but I really wasn't sure.
MDS-Koscheck said he ranked you at the top of his list and thought you were the best athlete on the show as well, although he didn't take you first because GSP tricked him about his own intentions.
MJ-I didn't know that Koscheck ranked me first, actually. That feels pretty good to know, but I'm definitely glad GSP was the one who took me. Not that I don't think Koscheck is good, I would have been honored to learn from him, too, but I thought GSP could improve more holes in my game.
MDS-What was the first practice session with Team GSP like?
MJ-I felt anxious working out with those guys before. I never had a chance to work out with Greg Jackson who's one of the best coaches in MMA and that seemed like such a huge opportunity to improve myself.
MDS-What did you think when you first moved into the house?
MJ-I loved it. It was incredible. I live in a three-bedroom house. This was a mansion.
MDS-Alex Cacares, one of your teammates who's better known as Bruce Leroy, beat Jeffrey Lentz with a triangle choke in the first fight. Were you cheering for him as your teammate?
MJ-I was cheering for Alex -- I call him Alex. I don't buy into that Bruce Leroy stuff. He introduces himself as Bruce Leroy but I call him Alex. That was a point where me and him got along and I was cheering for him.
MDS-I take it you didn't get along with him later?
MJ-You'll have to watch the show to see that.
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