Brett Johns sees his matchup against ninth-ranked bantamweight Pedro Munhoz as the perfect way to bounce back from his first professional loss to Aljamain Sterling.
“Pikey” insisted that he was happy to get another top tier challenge put in front of him by the UFC instead of having to build himself back up from the bottom of the bantamweight ladder.
“I think it says a lot that the UFC put me in there with a guy that’s ranked rather than put me to the back of the division and make me climb the ranks again,” Johns told MMA Fighting.
“I’m happy about it because I really don’t feel like I need that tune-up fight or a confidence boost. I’m in this game to be the best in the world, so the best way to do that is fighting guys with higher ranking positions than me, not guys who are below me.”
Johns also revealed that he has previously been offered a showdown with the Brazilian, but turned the fight down in fear that he would have trouble hitting the weight limit.
“I got offered to fight Pedro in February. It was just after Christmas at the time and I was a bit big, so they ended up giving it to Dodson. The way I see it, I’m getting a second opportunity to reach the goal that I set myself before the Aljamain Sterling fight — to get myself into the top 10. The fight is really a huge opportunity and I hope it does mean that the UFC has confidence in me that they’re giving me a second crack at a ranked fighter.”
Johns claims that he expects the bout to play out on the feet, but he has especially prepared for the Brazilian’s guillotine choke.
“He’s a very tough and durable guy. The last time out I felt that I could potentially take my opponent out with one shot, but I think it’s a completely different story with Pedro,” Johns said. “I’ve seen this guy fight some very big hitters and he stands right in front of them and eats their shots like cake. I think he has a very similar fighting style to me and I can see us clashing heads because of that. He likes to come forward and box and so do I; it’s just going to be one of those fights.
“Pedro has a great guillotine so I’ve got to be careful with my shots. Luckily, we have been preparing for that and all the guys in the gym have been trying to pull my head off — it feels like I have whiplash every time I leave the gym.”
Noting the losses on Munhoz’s record, all which have come by split decision to elite fighters in the division, Johns is confident that he will be considered one of the top names in the division if he leaves L.A. with a victory.
“All three of his losses are by split decision. In all fairness to him, he’s been close every single time. He’s lost to Jimmie Rivera, John Dodson and he’s lost to Raphael Assuncao — these guys are the top guys in the world; they’re all in the top 10,” Johns said.
“To have a win over Pedro would put my name on that list, and as far as I’m concerned, that proves that I’m up there with the best. My only loss is to a guy in the top 10 too, so I’m very motivated to have my hand raised this time around.”