UFC On Versus 6: Under The Radar

Michael Johnson

Lightweight battle surprisingly not drawing much attention

Last week for UFC 135, I highlighted the middleweight contest between unbeaten Nick Ring and Tim Boetsch, a guy who looked very good in his last fight after making some necessary changes.

My mindset is that you should always be paying at least a little bit of attention to unbeaten fighters, especially when they’ve already registered a victory inside the Octagon; even more so when they’ve done it impressively. Also, when guys make some adjustments and look good, keep watching because there might be more to come.

That same logic is how I landed on this week’s UFC on Versus 6 installment of Under the Radar.

Michael Johnson vs. Paul Sass

Michael Johnson (9-5, 1-1 UFC)

WIN Eddie Faaloloto (TKO, Round 1)
LOSS Jonathan Brookins (Uanimous Decision)
WIN Chris McDaniel (TKO, Round 1)

Paul Sass (11-0, 1-0 UFC)

WIN Mark Holst (Submission, Round 1)
WIN Jason Young (Submission, Round 1)
WIN Rob Sinclair (Split Decision)

Why I Love This Fight

Like I said off the top: undefeated fighters always draw my attention, especially when they’ve maintained that streak after stepping into the Octagon.

Paul Sass has won all 11 over his fights, ten of them by submission, seven of those by triangle choke. As much as I shake my head at the nickname/name-my-move combo that is “Sassangle,” the results speak for themselves.

Normally, I’d be skeptical of a guy who has yet to fight on North American soil that has dominated the way Sass has, but getting a quick victory over Holst at UFC 120, and having beaten two quality opponents prior to that, removes some of the doubt.

On the other side, Michael Johnson looked terrific in his post-TUF debut on the last Versus show, pummeling Eddie Faaloloto. He’s reshaped his body since becoming part of The Blackzilians down in Boca Raton, Florida, shedding the extra mass in favor of lean muscle and much-improved conditioning.

Stylistically, these two present an interesting fight.

Sass lives on the canvas, his submissions being the only real offensive tools we’ve seen from him to date. While that plays well against strikers like Jason Young or average-at-best opposition like Holst, Johnson isn’t going to just fall into a triangle.

“The Menace” has a strong wrestling base and works with a camp full of wrestlers and jiu-jitsu black belts, so he should be prepared for whatever Sass tries. If he’s able to keep it standing, we might just get to see what kind of striking Sass brings to the table.

I’m also intrigued by the fact that Johnson went from favorite to forgotten (to an extent) following his lost to Jonathan Brookins. He was everyone’s early pick to win the whole thing, and looked good in the opening round of his Finale loss, but has slipped into the background of the always shifting, always growing lightweight division.

His win over Faaloloto should have reminded people about his promise, but that didn’t seem to happen; maybe this fight will.

The off-shoot of that for Sass is that a win over a solid up-and-comer likes Johnson takes away some of the remaining question marks, moves him to 12-0 and should earn him a step up in competition.

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