Michael Johnson Blames No One But Himself for Recent Losses: ‘I’m Beating Myself’

Michael Johnson knows he's capable of being a contender at lightweight or featherweight but mental errors have cost him several losses in his most recent fights.

Michael Johnson looks no further than the man staring back at him in the mirror when trying to figure out how he’s gone 1-5 in his past six fights.

Johnson, who just four fights ago handed Dustin Poirier a devastating first round knockout loss, has struggled to maintain consistency lately with three losses in a row.

The last two fights are particularly upsetting for Johnson because he knows he should have gotten the better of Justin Gaethje when they met in a ‘Fight of the Year’ slugfest in July 2017. Then Johnson suffered another devastating defeat against Darren Elkins in his featherweight debut after dishing out a ton of punishment in the opening round only to suffer a submission loss a few minutes later.

Considering Johnson holds wins over the likes of Poirier, Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza, he knows he belongs among the best fighters in the world whether he’s competing at lightweight or featherweight.

The problem is Johnson just can’t seem to get out of his own way lately.

“It’s me not staying focused. I paid for it the last two fights,” Johnson said ahead of his next bout at UFC Fight Night in Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday night. “These guys aren’t beating me by any means. I’m beating myself. It’s the perfect definition of somebody beating themselves. It’s just something I have to overcome.

“I let myself slip into spots being unfocused. So now I have to make sure I stay focused and fight the full fight. That position I got caught in, I just moved too fast and Darren Elkins is great and when somebody exposes their back to him, the rest is what happened.”

While it’s common for fighters to admit problems in training or injuries that led to certain defeats, Johnson doesn’t shy away from the mental issues he’s dealt with during recent performances.

By no means is Johnson making an excuse for his losses because he knows exactly what led to each defeat he’s suffered and what he needs to do to fix it.

“It’s a mental thing. I’ll be honest and I’ll admit that,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys tend not to admit their faults or the reasons why but it’s not an excuse when I’m saying it. It’s just a statement and a fact. I lost focus and I ended up paying for it. My training camp has been great, nothing needs to change in my training.

“We’ve been doing this for some time now and we haven’t had any problems so the training has never been an issue.”

Johnson will have a chance to show off what he’s learned this weekend when he takes on Andre Fili in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night from Lincoln, Nebraska.

Johnson sees Fili as the perfect opponent to face right now and prove to the world that he still belongs to share the stage with the best fighters in the world.

“That’s one thing that I’ve been lucky and kind of blessed with the UFC. They know the type of fighter I am and I want the toughest available guys,” Johnson said. “For them to give me a guy like Andre Fili, it’s incredible. It’s showing that they still have faith in me and I just need to get over some hurdles and get back on track. It’s good. Get in there and get a big win and I’m right back in the mix.

“I’ve always believed I belong in there those guys. Still in my mind, I believe I’m one of the best in the world and I’ll put my money on it against anybody on any day of the week.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.