The pride of Burns Lake, British Columbia will make his long awaited UFC debut in his home province this Saturday night. “Ragin” Kajan Johnson will step inside the Octagon for the very first time officially at UFC 174 at the Rogers Arena.
Johnson burst onto the professional MMA (NHB – No Holds Barred) scene back in 2002 with a promotion called Roadhouse Rumble. Being in the time when there weren’t many amateur contests, Johnson was forced to go pro while he was still in grade 12. Some may call his 19-10-1 record not UFC caliber, however if you look at the competition he faced very early in his career, you may think otherwise. A couple notable losses were to current UFC lightweight contender Josh Thomson and now Tristar teammate Rory MacDonald.
After 30 gruelling mixed martial arts bouts and numerous attempts at making it to the big show, Johnson finally did and that came through The Ultimate Fighter Nations. He was picked to compete on the reality show, as the Canadians took on the boys from Australia. He was a fixture in the house that you either loved or hated, but his fellow competitors had nothing but praise for the 30-year-old.
In his quarter-final match-up, Johnson made quick work of Brendan O’Reilly forcing him to tap out due to a rear-naked choke. Unfortunately in the semi-finals, he was placed against his teammate Chad Laprise. The first round was very back and forth, but Laprise found an opening in the second that knocked Johnson out and in turn broke his jaw.
Fast forward six-months and Johnson’s jaw has fully recovered and will be tested inside the Octagon against Tae Hyun Bang at UFC 174.
“I get hit, so it’s not like it hasn’t been tested,” Johnson told Vancity Buzz. “I got sidekicked in the jaw here probably three or four weeks ago and it wasn’t a big problem. It didn’t hurt, so yeah.”
Fighting in front of your hometown can bring on jitters, especially in your UFC debut. However for Johnson he is excited as ever to bring the action for his friends and family.
“It’s amazing, it’s really a dream come true. I never would have thought that my debut would have actually been in Vancouver,” said Johnson. “Especially in one of the first UFC’s in a couple of years. I’ve got so many friends and family coming. It’s going to be like a huge reunion. Almost every single person that’s important in my life, minus like one or two are going to be there, so it’s going to be a really cool experience for me.”
His opponent, Bang, has had one previous fight inside the Octagon and it was a unanimous decision loss against Mairbek Taisumov in January. He has fought some experienced opponents, but that doesn’t worry the British Columbia native.
“He looks like he’s a tough guy, he looks pretty durable. I’ve seen that he’s gone to a decision with some guys that are really good, like [Takanori] Gomi and [Jorge] Masvidal, so that definitely tells me that he can take a shot because both those guys are bombers. He doesn’t seem that busy, although who knows, he may see that as a mistake in the past and try to up his pace in this fight. I’m not worried about what he’s going to do; I’m always just focused on what I have to do. The more I worry about him, the more it gets me out of my game.”
If you are one of the many that have not seen Johnson fight in the past then you are in for a treat. He brings ninja like skills to the cage and is always looking for the finish.
“You’re in for a show. I don’t have a boring style of fighting; I’ve never enjoyed people that were really control oriented. I’m control oriented at finishing – I like finishing people. I’ve always wanted to be a ninja, so I like pulling off certain flashy maneuvers that might be risky, but high risk, high reward. I just do my thing and express myself honestly and the outcome is generally good.”
UFC 174 goes down this Saturday night live on Pay-Per-View from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. The main event is for the UFC flyweight title, as champion Demetrious Johnson puts his belt on the line against the always dangerous Ali Bagautinov.
(Photo courtesy of Zuffa LLC)