Coming into 2020, middleweight Johnny Eblen was already looking at some time off due to recovering from surgery, so when the novel coronavirus lockdown was enacted in the spring, it wasn’t as big of a blow to his career as it might have been to other fighters.
Having to put the focus on his recovery ended up being a good thing for Eblen while he wasn’t able to train fully in MMA or fight during lockdown.
“Coronavirus kind of actually hit at a decent time for me,” Eblen told MMAWeekly.com. “I had to have knee surgery in December, so I was pretty much in recovery the whole time.
“Quarantine wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t too stressed about the situation; I was more focused on getting back to health, so I could start training again. As I recovered from my knee surgery things opened up around the same time. It was not too bad for me, to be honest.”
Because he wasn’t able to train in some ways due to his injury, Eblen was able to work on specific aspects of his game, which he feels will be a boost when he returns to action.
“I actually improved my game a lot,” said Eblen. “Before I had a shoulder injury, so I was able to improve my footwork a lot. This time I hurt my leg, so I couldn’t really walk for a little bit, but I was able to box pretty early, getting my hands right the whole time.
“I worked on a lot of film study, build my mental game and stuff from watching film. I took what I could, did what I could, and improved as much as I could during that time.”
On Thursday in Uncasville, Conn., Eblen (6-0) will seek to remain undefeated when he faces Taylor Johnson (6-1) in a preliminary middleweight bout at Bellator 250.
“He’s definitely a tough guy and a good fighter, has a good skillset, so I’m actually pretty excited for it,” Eblen said of Johnson. “I get to showcase my skillset on a worthy opponent.”
Rather than look too far ahead of himself, Eblen is looking to mark off goals on his checklist for 2020, continuing with having his first bout of the year verses Taylor.
“My first thing was to recover from injury; my second thing was getting a fight before the end of the year; and also just improve constantly,” said Eblen. “I’ve kind of met my goals for 2020 as long as everything plays out with this fight. So far so good.”