by Samantha L. Johnson – MMAWeekly.com
The Aug. 1 UFC on Versus 2 card was originally scheduled to take place in DaMarques Johnson’s hometown of Salt Lake City. However, due to poor ticket sales, UFC executives made the decision to move the show to San Diego. Fighting on the card was the first opportunity Johnson had been given to fight in front of his hometown since joining the UFC ranks.
“Honestly, no (I wasn’t disappointed),” said Johnson (14-7). “I’m just kind of like ‘whatever.’ I’m still fighting, but if my fight would have gotten cancelled then I would have been bummed. But getting punched in my face in front of friends is just like getting punched in my face in front of San Diego; it’s all about the same.”
While he may no longer be fighting in front of hoards of friends and family, Johnson is still fighting. Facing Matt Riddle (4-1), a Division II wrestler, Johnson knows a war is likely against the Pennsylvania native. Both men have had exciting fights for the premier organization and this fight has the makings of a Fight of the Night, but Johnson isn’t holding out for that bonus.
“I never go out there looking to bonus,” he said. “I just go out there looking to fight hard and keep these guys from making me uglier than I already am. It’s not something I expect or bank on, or expect myself to get every time I fight.”
With only five professional fights, to some, Riddle would seem like an easy opponent. Johnson has four times the experience, but as the cliché goes, anything can happen in a fight.
“My trainers are the ones who watch the tape and they’ll prepare accordingly,” said Johnson of his preparation for Riddle. “I’ll watch a little bit of the tape, but nothing horribly in depth or anything. When you spend too much time dwelling on something, it’s never a good thing… I don’t have horrible fight instincts, so it’s not like I’m going to get in there and not know what I’m doing.”
One of Johnson’s main trainers is veteran fighter Jeremy Horn. With over 100 professional fights, Horn is credited with getting Johnson into MMA. After returning to civilian life after eight years of active duty in the military, Johnson started at Horn’s Elite Performance to continue jiu-jitsu, which he had taken up in the military.
“I’d never really thought about (fighting) until he approached me about it,” explained Johnson. “I thought ‘eh, I’ll give it a shot.’ I ended up boxing for like six months and then was like, ‘well, alright, screw it, let’s fight!'”
Since his first professional fight in 2005, Johnson has gone on to rack up a 14-7 record, with only two wins going to a decision. With more than 20 training camps and weight cuts under his belt, the Salt Lake native knows the 15 minutes people see is only made possible by months of training and strategizing.
“No one realizes how much work really goes into that 15 minutes,” said Johnson. “Even on those UFC specials, people don’t realize it is months of work for 15 minutes worth of spotlight.”
Samantha L. Johnson is a freelance writer originally from Southeast Idaho, currently living in Las Vegas, NV. Visit www.sxjohnson.net for her ramblings of on living in the MMA Mecca.