Michael Johnson got a much-needed victory on Saturday night.
The South Florida-based competitor has always been a tough out in the UFC, a rough night for anyone who has to fight him, win or lose. But he also came into his UFC Lincoln bout with Andre Fili with three straight losses and five of his last six.
But Johnson did what he does best, turning the fight into trench warfare, and this time he got the nod. The judges at Pinnacle Bank Arena gave Johnson a 30-28 and 29-28 to a 29-28 for Fili in a split decision.
“It felt really good to get here and get a tough win over a guy like Andre,” said Johnson, who won for the first time since dropping down to featherweight.
The opening round was a bit of a feeling-out affair, as Johnson landed solid with straight punches and utilized solid footwork. Fili, for his part, did his best to mix up his offense, with combo punches and kicks high and low.
Both fighters committed fouls, with Fili landing an eye poke in the opening round and Johnson with a nasty low kick in the second.
Fili, out in his best round in the second, as he took Johnson to the mat, got his back, stayed there when Johnson got to his feet, got in a rear-naked choke, and held it once it hit the mat again.
Both fighter gave their all in the third, but Johnson landed a bit more often, which was enough to make up for several sprawled takedown attempt.
Johnson (18-13), for his part, knows it’s too soon to call anyone out after just one win.
“I just knew I had to stay here and be tough,” Johnson said. “We did what he had to do. I can’t call anyone out after a split decision ,I gotta go back and get back to my game plan.”
Fili (18-6) had a two-fight win streak snapped and dropped to 2-2 in his past four.