If you asked a group of MMA fans about what it takes to be successful in the ring and you’re likely to end up with as many different answers as people surveyed – great striking, a solid wrestling base, world-class submissions, never-ending cardio, etc. However, question a collection of actual fighters and you’re likely to see a bit more uniformity in their responses with a singular emphasis on the importance one’s state of mind plays in terms of winning/losing.
“Rumble” recently elaborated on his viewpoint in a conversation with UFC.com while also citing a prime example of how psychology can affect a fight’s outcome.
“The mental game is the most important part of fighting in my opinion,” explained Johnson. “If you have that mental edge and mental toughness, you’ll be able to be successful in fighting, no matter what skill level you’re at. It plays a big part, and fighting against Dan Hardy, it definitely worked to my advantage.”
Johnson fought the British brawler earlier this year and drew criticism from some for promising to engage Hardy while standing only to wrestle his way to a one-sided decision victory once showtime rolled around.
“I pretty much knew what I was gonna do,” said Johnson on the subject of Hardy. “I just wanted to mess with him a little bit because I knew he was really wanting somebody to stand and bang with him. But why would I take a 50-50 chance? Even though I know I’m a better striker than him – nothing against his striking or anything – why take a chance of getting caught when I know I’m better than him on the ground?”
“The true fans and true MMA analysts that understand fighting and know MMA, it shocked them, but they also respected what I did,” he continued. “People who don’t know fighting and that just want to see people go in there and try to knock each other’s head off, they didn’t like it at all. They just want to see a bloodsport, and that’s not what MMA is all about. To me, this is my career, it’s my body, it’s my fight, and I’m gonna do what I’ve got to do to win. And if I have to play that psychological game with somebody, I’ll do that.”
One of the biggest 170 pounders in the UFC, Johnson is 9-3 in his career with six TKOs and past triumphs over Luigi Fioravanti and Yoshiyuki Yoshida. His bout with Brenneman will be part of the UFC Live 6 main card alongside headlining bantamweights Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC