DaMarques Johnson returns to action at UFC Fight for the Troops 2 on Saturday night in Fort Hood, Texas. Fighting in front of thousands of military personnel is a special honor for “The Ultimate Fighter Season 9″ runner-up.
“I’m excited. It’s a different kind of environment fighting for troops. I think it’s something the troops will appreciate more than your casual fan. It’s provided me a weird kind of calm,” Johnson told MMAWeekly.com.
“I think people, especially fight critics, forget that there is a vacuum of pressure for the guys fighting and providing for their families,” he added. “So that pressure will be lessened, making it a calmer environment knowing that you’re fighting for fans who have been in real life high pressure situations as opposed to a fist fight for money.”
The Salt Lake City, Utah, resident is scheduled to take on rugged veteran Mike Guymon. Both fighters are coming off of losses and are looking to rebound with a big win.
“I’ve known Mike for a while. We’re not best friends, but I’m sure we’ll drink lots of beers together after the fight,” jested Johnson.
Johnson trains at Jeremy Horn’s Elite Performance gym and has worked with MMA veterans such as Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler. Near the end of his hard training, the 28-year-old fighter revealed that he hasn’t made any specific adjustments in preparation for the “Joker.”
“I have just worked on what I suck at for the most part in an effort to build myself into a better performer, fighter, and person. Taking this many ass whippings forces you to make adjustments to your game.”
Despite having to face an acquaintance in the Octagon, Johnson has learned to keep focus and not allow friendship to get in the way of business.
“I learned my lesson with getting overly emotional about fights; kind of learned to be indifferent. It’s not like I’m fist fighting my little brother or big brother,” commented Johnson. “It’s just a guy that does what I do and we have to do this to feed both of our families. It’ll be what it is for 15 minutes and we’ll be drinking buddies afterwards.”
DaMarques Johnson served his country for eight years before turning to MMA. He served four years of active duty in the army and an additional four years in the Utah National Guard. Johnson credits his opportunity to train from his time in the military.
“Yes, I am proud to have served my country and some days wish I was still there. Don’t get me wrong, I love the UFC and being a fighter. I have been blessed to be able to do what I have been able to do, but in a way felt a little cheated that I wasn’t offered the opportunity to make good on some of the goals I set for myself while I was there. It all happens for a reason though and I have to keep in mind that I can’t be a cowboy, an Indian, a doctor, and an astronaut. Pick a path and see where it goes.”
Johnson is coming off a tough loss to Matt Riddle at UFC on Versus 2. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt failed to make weight for the fight and was defeated by TKO in the second round. With the UFC recently releasing many of its fighters after poor performances, the pressure is on him to get a win and keep his standing in the welterweight division.
“There is pressure coming off an ass whippin’ like the one that Matt gave me. I do find myself under the gun,” revealed Johnson. “However, it’s not like Dana is taking dudes out back after they get a beat down and shooting them; it’s not like it would be a lifetime ban or anything like that. Fighters are replaceable, it sucks, but it’s the truth. My job is to not get replaced and should I get my pink slip, I’ll fight my way back in.”
A military veteran himself, DaMarques Johnson will soon have the special opportunity to fight in front of today’s troops and continue to work his way up the welterweight ladder.
“I plan on getting out there and I will fight my ass off to the best of my abilities. I bleed, sweat, and share myself with you guys so you can be entertained. Love you guys. Critics and haters just remember when you’re judging me or any other fighter for that matter, if it were that easy you would probably be doing it and not just watching.”