March 20th became the day that Brett Johns took a further step to cementing himself as one of the best Bantamweights on the planet outside the UFC. Johns stopped former UFC fighter Walel Watson in the second round of their Titan Fighting Championship Bantamweight title fight.
Watson was arguably the most experience opponent Johns had faced to date but aside from finding himself in a spot of bother in the second round, Johns didn’t find anything particularly surprising about how the fight played out.
“I wasn’t really surprised. I knew the rubber guard was something I had to watch out for but I genuinely believe I train with best guys in world at Chris Rees in Swansea so I wasn’t worried as such. In the second round I thought I was in a bit of trouble but managed to get out. The fight went as planned, I wanted to go out there and put on a performance and I feel that I did that.”
You can watch Johns claim the Titan Fighting Bantamweight title in the video below;
Being a Champion is something not unfamiliar to the Swansea native, having formerly been the Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion until that unfortunate weekend back in April 2014. Something which haunts Johns to this day.
By way of background Johns was scheduled to defend his belt against James Brum, however, Johns failed to make weight and had to relinquish his strap. Johns went on to defeat Brum on the night but had to give up his belt as a penalty for missing weight. Obviously this played a big factor ahead of his debut fight for Titan Fighting Championship.
“Ahhhh, it was a bit of a mistake against Brum and to this day it haunts me because that is not me. As much as I am gutted about missing weight I learnt my lesson. So going into this fight it definitely played a factor and was on my mind. But I made sure I sat down with my coach and we both just agreed that we would do whatever it takes to make weight. And it worked and we know it works. But cutting weight is tough, for me it’s harder than the fight itself.”
The Brum fight was the last time that Johns fought under the Cage Warriors banner, and whilst his last bout with them will always play on his mind he has very fond memories of being a Cage Warriors fighter and Champion.
“I absolutely love Cage Warriors and have a very good relationship with them. I am very thankful to them and they have some of the best guys I have ever met. When I was there they looked after me, the likes of Graham, Ian & Paul. I am very grateful to Cage Warriors for giving me the opportunity to fight on their show.”
One of the major factors in getting Johns signed with Titan was his new management team, SukerPunch Entertainment headed up by Brian Butler. Prior to signing with SukerPunch , Johns was managed by his coach Chris Rees who as always had a big influence in Johns decision to sign with SukerPunch .
“I signed with them back last year and it has been one of the best decisions I have made. This is the difference now because I’m not fighting on local shows anymore. I am fighting for big promotions and SukerPunch have been very supportive. When Chris and I first spoke about it I was questioning him because I don’t like change but then we sat down and discussed it and I was happy with what Chris was telling me.”
Brian Butler seemed to waste no time in utilising his extensive list of contacts and getting Johns the US exposure he felt he needed at this stage in his career.
“Signing for Titan was the right thing for me in my career. Although it was a bit of a risk it was the best thing I have done. I sat on it for a while but then Chris and I thought it was the right time for me to hit the US market.”
The experience of fighting overseas for Johns was somewhat daunting to start with but on reflection was one of the best weeks of the young Welshman’s life.
“Throughout my whole 16 fights career (including amateurs) other than against Watson, I have slept in my own bed before the fight. So this fight was different for me. I am a home bird and I don’t like leaving home. But once I was out there I was absolutely fine and happy to be out there. It was different though and I didn’t enjoy it at first but by the end of week it was one of the best experiences I have had. It won’t be the last time I fight abroad for sure.”
And the experience was made even easier for Johns by the treatment from his new employees who pulled out all the stops to make him feel like a Champion before he had even won the belt.
“I have never been treated like that before, they really looked after me. I felt like a King. Everyone there was extremely respectful and given that I was only one of two fighters on the card who wasn’t American they just couldn’t help me enough.”
Now with an 11-0 record and accolades including current Titan Fighting Bantamweight Champion and former Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion, why is Johns not shouting from the Valleys to sign with the UFC?
“I am in no rush at all to get to the UFC. I just really enjoy fighting and although the money will be different I am absolutely happy with how things are. Money for me isn’t a major factor at the minute. You see a lot of guys in the UFC who shouldn’t be there. People might think they are brilliant and deserve it but I don’t see if that way. Too many guys get into the UFC on a risk record. Im not going to name names but they do.”
With big things on the horizon for Johns and a clear path to make a run on the International scene lined up would Johns consider taking his training camps overseas? It’s certainly something which has been offered to the young Welshman but this hometown hero feels he has all the tools he needs at home in Swansea.
“After the fight I talked to GSP’s coach (Farah Zahabi) and he said he would love for me to train at Tri-Star. If I do take him up on the offer it would only be for a week or so though. There is a difference in my fighting just being with Chris Rees and training with him all the time. I believe that if you train as hard as I do them you shouldn’t have a problem. I train with a lot of amateur level guys and look where I have got to.”
At only 24 years old, Johns has an unbelievable amount of self-confidence and ability in himself which has been the real catalyst to him achieving as much as he had within only 11 professional fights.
“I am a new breed of fighter. I truly feel that mentally I have what it takes and have one of the best mental games in MMA. A lot of guys don’t have that factor and it’s not something you can teach or learn easily. I have a great MMA mind-set and regardless of where I train it doesn’t make change that.”
The sky really is the limit for Johns who is just eager to prove to the World he is the best Bantamweight fighter on the planet. Having just arrived back from the States he was straight back to the gym and keen to sharpen his ever expanding skillset.
While we have been through a recent Irish invasion on the global MMA front, Johns is happy sailing along in the background and biding his time before he makes the huge impact which is really inevitable for him. Like most of the UKMMA scene I am extremely excited to see how the Chris Rees fighter takes his career and wish him all the best in his journey to the top.
Brett would like to thank “My gorgeous girlfriend, the Chris Rees Academy, Sam Thomas, The Bridge, Andrew Burt, The Dragon School of Combat. Also my sponsors Booster Fightgear, Alienware and my management SukerPunch Entertainment. ”
Be sure to follow Brett Johns on twitter @36johns