Brett Johns Proud To Emulate Joe Calzaghe With Las Vegas Debut At TUF 26
Welshman Brett Johns says he’s looking to gate crash the top-15 with a win over Joe Soto at The Ultimate Fighter Finale Season 26 on Dec. 1 and it’s all the more special for him because he will be fighting in Las Vegas.
The 25-year-old is already Stateside acclimatising and getting ready for the biggest fight of his life. Speaking exclusively to MMANytt.com earlier today, Johns revealed that he was relieved he’d come out early given some of the issues he’d already faced.
“I’m glad I did come out early,” Johns said. “Obviously we knew about the water retention on the flight and stuff like that, but coming out here early and actually going through it, it’s actually affected me quite badly you know.
“Holding water from the plane and that. It’s been quite crazy, but my weight is coming down nicely now and I’ve had like three or four days here now. I’m fine now really.”
The Performance Institute
One of the advantages of being out in Las Vegas is the opportunity to use the new UFC Performance Institute. Johns said he’d already been there several time and that he was already making good use of the facility.
“It’s brilliant,” Johns said. “All the stuff we get to use is amazing and I’ll be going back there in about 45-minutes to get some grappling in with one of my teammates. Then hopefully tonight I’ll get a run in and stuff. I’m still trying to train about three times a day, but like I said, it’s really good out here and I’m really enjoying it. I really am.
“If I’m honest, [the UFC PI] isn’t like a hostile environment. I went to Floyd Mayweather’s gym back in July and that was a hostile environment that was. Walking in there and people just staring you out. The Performance Institute is a bit like that, but it’s not as bad. Yeah, potentially I could be fighting some of the guys there in a few fights time, but today I saw people like Justin Gaethje. I had a nice chat with Sean O’Malley. I saw Benavidez yesterday.
“Francis Ngannou is always there. I’ve been there three times and seen him three times.”
Ready for Soto
At 14-0, Johns is on the brink of making some real waves in the 135-pounds division and a win against Soto could put him right in the mix. Suffice to say, the man from Wales realizes the size of the task ahead of him, but he’s confident he will get the job done.
“I’m not a big believer in trying to overthink fights too much,” Johns said. “I understand it’s a big fight and Joe Soto is a very established fighter. He’s fought for what I’m trying to go for and that’s the UFC belt.
“I know it’s a tough fight, I know it is.
“In my head I’m ready for the toughest 15-minutes of my life. I’m prepared for it, I really am.”
“Anything less than that will be a bonus, but I’m ready for that 15-minutes in there.”
Ticking off the bucket list
Fighting in Vegas has always been a dream for Johns and on Dec., 1 he gets to fulfil that dream in the T-Mobile Arena. Johns isn’t stopping there though and he’s much bigger ambitions and goals to achieve.
“I’ve got like a bucket list and I’m trying to accomplish everything on it,” Johns said. “One of them things was to fight in Vegas, the other is to fight in MSG, and the other is to do a home fight in Wales.
“Obviously, the Principality Stadium would be the ideal venue for that, but those are the three I want to do and everything else is a bonus. I get to tick one of those off next Friday and it’s not against no joker either. It’s against a good, decent high level fighter and that’s what I want.
“I want to fight the best guys out there.”
Sterling at MSG?
Rising up the ranks isn’t something Johns finds daunting. He’s already getting used to the fact that he will start to face top level competition very soon and he says he’s going to be ready for them when it happens.
“It’s crazy, I’m watching UFC [events] right now and I’m seeing like the top-10 guys fighting on main cards, and in my head I’m not that far away from those fights,” Johns said. “This is definitely a step in the right direction.
“It’s one fight at a time, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I had people in my eyesight.
“I know I’ve said I want to fight on the MSG card and the bantamweight I’d like to fight on there is Aljamain Sterling.”
“That’s a guy who would probably like to fight on that card and I’d like to fight on that card.”
Emulating a legend
Fighting on the worlds biggest stages isn’t something new to Welsh fighters. Former two-weight boxing world champion Joe Calzaghe fought in the biggest arenas in the world and Johns is happy to be taking a step forward to emulating him.
“The reason I want to fight at MSG is because in Joe Calzaghe last few fights, you know the world class Welsh boxer, he managed to do Vegas, he managed to do Madison Square Garden, and he did the Millennium Stadium,” Johns said.
“I watch them fights back and I see the venues and stuff and it’s like, I think to myself, yeah he did that, but I want to do it as well you know.”
“I just want to tick them off my list that’s all I want to do.”
Listen to the full interview: