Kajan Johnson Talks Transition to Tristar Gym and the Ultimate Fighter 15
Mixed martial artist Kajan Johnson (19-10-1) is ready for big things. Despite 10 losses, the Canadian lightweight has only lost twice in his last 16 fights. His most recent victory was a first round rear-naked choke over Team Quest product Ritchie Whitson at "MFC 31: The Rundown in October."
The last time we talked, Johnson made it clear that he wanted to fight and win as much as possible to get himself in to the UFC. The goal hasn't changed and a permanent move to the home of current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre (GSP), Tristar Gym, will certainly help him reach that goal.
"Its going really good man, it's going really good. I am fitting in really well," Johnson told Bleacher Report. "I've been friends with a lot of these guys for a long time, but it's good to get in here and kind of see where I fit in. There are a lot of really good names out here, I find I fit in pretty well within the upper echelon of this team, I am really happy with that."
In the vibrant party city that is Montreal—the setting for Tristar—it is easy for young adults to get caught up in the night life. Canadian fans see it all the time with young rookie hockey players getting caught staying out late and abusing certain "luxuries" of life. Johnson, however, hasn't let the atmosphere steer him off his current path.
"No, I'm not huge on the big party scene [in Montreal]. I know why I'm here, I'm here for one reason and that's to become champion of the world so I just make sure that every decision I make is aligned with that goal and everything is perfect," Johnson said.
Becoming champion of the world has to start somewhere and although winning in the smaller mixed martial arts promotions is a feat in and of itself, getting a shot to make a run in the UFC is the dream of any professional mixed martial artist.
There is usually two ways for a fighter to get in to the UFC. The first one is to perform really well on the local/regional circuit and hope UFC talent scouts take note. The second is to try out and hope they get on the reality television show The Ultimate fighter.
Johnson has the record and experience to make a case for getting his shot in the UFC, but the lightweight division is a stacked division and they haven't come calling yet. The Ultimate Fighter it is for Johnson.
"Hopefully I get on the show [The Ultimate Fighter] and If I do, maybe I'll get to show the world what real martial artists are like, not crazy freakazoids," Johnson told B/R.
Johnson is a lightweight, but he won't be trying out at lightweight for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter being coached by Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. Johnson will be trying out at welterweight even though lightweights will be the other featured weight class.
"On The Ultimate Fighter, I'm not actually going to be in for the 155-pound weight class because just making weight that many times in that short time span will be too difficult on my body," Johnson said. "I'm going to be going on the show for the welterweight division and I think it will be a lot easier for me to deal with he stresses of the house and the stresses of the weight cut."
Fighting up a weight shouldn't be too much of a problem for Johnson though, as he is a pretty big lightweight to begin with.
"Now I would be cutting to make 170 [pounds], like I walk around anywhere between 180 to 185 pounds, it's a big cut for me to get down to 155 pounds," Johnson said.
To give you an idea as to how big of a lightweight Johnson is, current UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre is walking around at a weight close to Johnson's.
"Georges is small man. Me and Georges are almost the same size dude," Johnson said.
This helps shed some light on the concerns St-Pierre has around a potential superfight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Silva is a big middleweight who is rumored to walk around at 220 pounds and St-Pierre is a small welterweight, especially when you consider there are lightweights in similar size to GSP.
Johnson likes to make the cut to lightweight not necessarily because of a strength advantage, but because of the reach advantage it provides him.
"I don't want to not have reach on people man, that's my biggest thing," Johnson said. "The majority of lightweights are going to be around 5'8" to 5'10"...so I have reach on all those guys. I like to stay outside... stay away from me I kick you in the head."
Although he may not have the reach advantage at 170, hopefully he gets a chance to display his skills on The Ultimate Fighter. Johnson's manager Darcy McBride told B/R that Maximum Fighting Championships released him from his contract, so maybe there is something behind that, as there are not many other reasons for MFC to release a fighter of Johnson's caliber unless he is being solicited by bigger promotions. Enough people have given Johnson their blessing to help get him in.
"I do have a couple aces in the hole. My strength and conditioning coach John Chaimberg is putting in a word for me, Firas Zahabi is putting in a word for me as well as Georges St- Pierre putting in a good word for me and then of course my record, my skill set, my marketability, my look, it's all good," Johnson said. "For them not to pick me I think they'd be kind of crazy not to pick me, but once again I realize it's a television show."
It would definitely be a welcome Christmas present for Johnson and great way to start the New Year to get his shot with the UFC. Whether he gets in on The Ultimate Fighter or continues to work his way up, it would be hard to imagine him not making it in to the big show if he keeps on the winning track
*** Update, just got word that Kajan didn't make it on TUF 15, but like so many other past fighters to try out on the show, maybe he will get a chance to go straight in to the UFC especially if he wins a couple under the MFC banner. ***
Leon Horne is a writer for Bleacher Report and part of the B/R MMA Team, Follow @Leon_Horne
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