On last week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, the red “Menace” struck again.
Team GSP’s top pick, Michael “The Menace” Johnson, got his long-awaited shot at teammate and rival Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres last week. While Josh Koscheck wasn’t happy with the result—he was the lone voice of dissent in declaring that the fight “sucked”—Johnson moved on to the semifinals, and will face Team Koscheck’s sole survivor Nam Phan on next week’s two-hour episode for the right to fight for the six-figure UFC contract.
Recently, Johnson took time to speak to UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report.
Just to start out, the issue with you and Alex, the way we saw it on the show was that there was the one prank with him putting the bleach in Nam’s fabric softener, and that wound up being a problem for you, and then from there, you guys didn’t get along. Is that more or less how it went down with you guys? Or was there any other thing that people would be surprised about that happened with you.
Nah, it was pretty much that. It was just him in general. The laundry started it off, and then him pulling a lot of other little pranks around the house, just being a little immature kid, was really my main problem.
You mention the pranks around the house. In this episode, the way things started with you guys, the prank that was actually Sevak with the rubber band on the sprayer. Did you know that it wasn’t Alex before you saw the episode?
I still can’t say, because Sevak put the rubber band on the other sink. I used the sink that he didn’t put the rubber band on [on camera]. They showed him putting the rubber band on a different sink. We had two sinks in the kitchen, and I used the one they didn’t show Sevak putting the rubber band on, so it still could have been Alex.
And then as far as the issue between you guys, did stuff ever carry over into practice? Were there problems when you were sparring or rolling with him?
No, he really didn’t practice that much—he was complaining about some back injury that he had—but when he did practice and we went with each other, I made it a point to kick his ass a little bit, not take it easy on him.
He had said in some of the build-up that he had been able to stuff some of your takedowns in practice. Was that a matter of you not going full speed, or was there something that you had to adjust going from practice to the actual fight?
That was just him running his mouth. He’d probably stopped one of my takedowns in practice. If he did stuff one, it was me letting him work.
So even though he was getting on your nerves, you were trying to be a good teammate.
It was more him being an annoying little brother, just getting on my nerves, than anything else.
And then, obviously, Koscheck was trying to inject himself into the fight, taking Alex’s side of things. Was that a distraction for you at all?
Absolutely not. I just blocked Koscheck out. Koscheck was going to be Koscheck. I didn’t really let him get to me. I had a fight to worry about.
Now, at the end, he said that the fight sucked. Obviously, I didn’t think that. Do you think he really thought that, or do you think he was just trying to get at you and at GSP a little bit?
I think he was just trying to get under Georges’ skin. He was probably still hurt that two of our guys got to fight. He thought that we were throwing Alex to the wolves. I think he was just being a little crybaby at that point.
And then, at the end of the show, the semifinal matchups are announced, and you’re fighting Nam Phan. On the one hand, Nam seems to be a really chill guy, and doesn’t seem to be into the whole feud or the loud celebrations after he won his fight—which is funny, since he’s the one who actually won—but at the same time, he’s still on Josh’s team and wearing yellow. Was it tough to separate that at all?
He’s a pretty cool, decent guy, but at the same time, it’s business at that point. I really don’t get too involved in the politics. He was just another guy that was in my way of getting to the finals and fighting for the contract.
It also seemed like after the preliminary round, when Georges and Spencer picked Nam for Spencer to fight, Nam got matched up with whoever Kos had a problem with. He gets matched up with Cody, and beats Cody, and then you’re the other guy on GSP’s team that Kos had a problem with, and there you are with Nam. How did you feel about the matchup, and did you see Kos sending his guy after you?
I thought it was pretty funny. Koscheck, we had our words, so he says, “All right, I want to send Nam after him. I hope Nam beats him up.” That was kind of his way of getting payback against Cody. I was all for fighting Nam. I didn’t have a problem with it at all.