Michael Johnson was the first pick on The Ultimate Fighter way back in season 12 and while he has not lived up to that hype, the talented lightweight is not getting the respect he deserves in the division.
The lightweight division has long been one of the most talent-rich, but it is also a division that is in desperate need of stars. The old guard have fallen on hard times with losses, poor performances or being gone from the UFC altogether.
Johnson could potentially be one of the talented fighters who fill those open slots if he continues on his current path.
Johnson stumbled out of the gates in the UFC by losing The Ultimate Fighter 12 finale to Jonathan Brookins. He then went 1-1 in his next two bouts against Edward Faaloloto and Paul Sass—suffering the loss to Sass.
In 2012, Johnson turned it around.
He started the year 3-0 with three quality wins. Johnson defeated Shane Roller, Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo. Johnson finally started to put all of his tools together, and his performances showed fantastic upside to the prospect.
Then he fell back into the pack with back-to-back losses to Myles Jury and Reza Madadi. The losses took away all of the goodwill that Johnson built up to that point. He was sent back to the end of the breadline.
After the losses, he was put against Joe Lauzon in a bout that seemed tailor-made for Lauzon's game. Johnson put on a show. He dominated Lauzon from bell to bell. Johnson even earned a 30-25 scorecard from one judge.
The Blackzilian lightweight returned at UFC 168 and knocked the tough veteran Gleison Tibau out in the second round.
That puts his win-loss record at 5-2 since 2012. Currently, Johnson is ranked No. 13 in the official UFC rankings.
Johnson is putting together his skills nicely. His boxing has gotten very crisp in recent fights, and he is able to blend that together with his wrestling to become a very dangerous lightweight. Few in the division have the total skill set that Johnson does.
He is just now entering his athletic prime. A scary, and exciting, thought.
Johnson is still going to need a few wins before he becomes a title contender in the division, but he should be getting more recognition as a potential threat to the division as a whole. He is a fighter who is exciting and is only getting better day by day in South Florida.
Fans need to pay more attention to the talented 155-pounder. 2014 could be a very big year for him.
Johnson can be seen next taking on Melvin Guillard at UFC Fight Night 37.