UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will collide with fists of fury, headlining the first-ever UFC event in the nation’s capital Oct. 1.
In a city where men clamber for domination by wielding pens instead of swords, these two athletes will show that in the octagon, intelligence and power are displayed through athletic prowess and egos are shattered with a swift right hook to the jaw.
In promotion for UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson at the Verizon Center, available live on Versus, the two bantamweights warmed up to hip-hop, conducted interviews and greeted fans in separate rooms at Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness in Arlington, Virginia the second week of August.
Both athletes said their styles are a good match for one another, and look forward to thrilling their fans by using their opponent’s strengths against them.
“I like the grind,” Cruz—who got his start in mixed martial arts as a wrestling coach in Tuscon, AZ—told Bleacher Report. “I like going five rounds. I look forward to the war.”
Cruz, undefeated since his 2008 drop to the 135-lb division, vindicated his only loss in July during a rematch against division rival that stemmed from their WEC days, Uriah Faber.
“It felt great to beat Uriah,” said Cruz. “I’ve thought about that win for four years.”
Johnson, who holds a 14-1 record, defeated Miguel Torres in May despite breaking his fibula mid-fight.
“It hurt like hell when it happened, but I had to do my job, so I just kept on fighting,” Johnson told Bleacher Report.
The 24-year-old native Kentuckian—who earned his nickname “Mighty Mouse” from the shape of his ears and his small stature—is currently on a four-fight win streak.
“I’m used to fighting guys bigger than me, which is why I never get tired in a fight,” said Johnson. “I’m always adjusting to what my opponent does.”
October will be the first time Johnson enters the Octagon after making the move to full-time training.
The evening will feature a full card that includes D.C.’s own bantamweight—and Cruz’s training partner—Mike “The Hulk” Easton.
Easton, a BJJ blackbelt under Lloyd Irvin, will make his Octagon debut after a two-year recovery from an elbow injury. He will face off against Jeff Hougland in the undercard.
“A lot of people speak of ring rust, but I’ve had a chance to rest and study,” Easton told Bleacher Report. “I’m healthy.”
No stranger to adversity, Easton—who overcame medical complications at birth and dyslexia—will be the first UFC fighter from the District. That evening he will be realizing a lifelong dream of fighting for the UFC, a journey that began over 10 years ago when he met Irvin in a local restaurant
“If I can show that I’m a guy from the hood, and that I am accomplishing my dreams, I can show my kids that they can do anything,” said Easton. “I can change my city, and eventually, change the world.”