A lot of athletes today only speak to the media in clichés. Every question is met with a well-used line about trying hard, giving 110 percent, or working towards the ultimate goal of winning a championship. It’s a back-and-forth that both sides are used to playing, and one that fans have become accustomed to over the years.
Things are a little bit different in mixed martial arts. While there are certainly a collection of tried and true questions and answers out there about training camp, injuries, the next opponent, and the outcome of the next fight, there are numerous fighters who offer a refreshing break from the norm.
DaMarques Johnson is one of those fighters.
The 30-year-old welterweight says what is on his mind, and answers questions with the kind of candidness that you rarely encounter in an athlete who doesn’t punch other people in the face for a living. Even within the fraternity of fighters, Johnson stands as one of the more frank and brutally honest individuals within the group.
While most everyone will tell you they’re taking it one fight at a time and not looking past their next scheduled opponent, most have glanced at the rankings or around the division and formulated an idea about whom they’d like to fight next should they emerge victorious. Not Johnson. Just as he has his own way of answering questions, the man known as “Darkness” doesn’t exactly look at his career in the same way that most of his contemporaries do either.
Coming off a loss, most fighters would talk about the importance of getting back into the win column. Sporting a 4-4 record inside the Octagon since his time as a thorn in the side of Team UK coach Michael Bisping on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, you would think that finding some consistency and stringing together a few wins in order to move up the rankings would be one of Johnson’s foremost concerns. At the very least, it sounds like something most fighters would say if they were in his situation.
“You know, I don’t even think that far ahead,” said Johnson of starting a winning streak next weekend when he welcomes Mike Swick back to the cage after more than two years spent traveling the world while battling injuries and illness. “I’m really just doing what I love to do and taking it at that, because I know I’ve only got X amount of time to do it. I’m just trying to make the best of every single fight. There’s a good possibility that I could have went 8-0 in the UFC, but s**t happens. It’s a learning process as you’re in there, even as you’re getting more and more fights in the UFC.”
Like many, Johnson watched Swick as a member of the inaugural cast of 16 to enter the Ultimate Fighter house, and dreamed of being able to one day follow in the fighter’s footsteps. Next weekend in Los Angeles, the 18-10 Johnson will be locked in a cage with the 14-4 veteran.
Swick last stepped into the Octagon at UFC 109, losing by technical submission to Paulo Thiago when the Brazilian put him to sleep with a D’Arce choke after he was dropped and dazed with a counter left hook. Once a title contender in the welterweight division, it’s hard to know where to place Swick at this point, as he had dropped two straight prior to his extended hiatus. With such a long break between appearances, it could be hard for Johnson to formulate a game plan heading into next weekend’s contest.
That is if Johnson were the type to put together a detailed game plan in the first place.
“Fans and media can talk about game plans all they want, but in the same breath, planning and planning and planning is all well and good, but sometimes you’ve just got to accept the chaos as it comes. That’s kind of the approach I’m taking.
“Of course there are general ideas and places I would prefer the fight be,” he continued, “but that could all change the minute I get punched in the face or I punch him in the face. A lot of it is just going to come down to your will to fight, and I love fighting people. I’m kind of good at it (laughs), so I try not to over-complicate it.”
One thing Johnson wants from all his fights – whether it’s this one, his eight previous UFC appearances, or the bouts hat came before his debut in the Octagon – is a finish, even if he’s the one on the business end of things. The native of West Jordan, Utah has only been to a decision three times in his career, and would prefer that things end without having to go to the scorecards.
“I’ve never, ever been a point-fighter; not in my jiu-jitsu days, not in my fighting career. I don’t see a decision as – I don’t know – I hate decisions. You have to be in there for a long time. Even if you do well, you can still lose, and even if you do horrible, you can get a win that you don’t even feel good about because you’re all lumped up. It sucks.
“I would much rather just get in there, get my ass knocked out, get an arm ripped off or knock someone out or rip their arm off, and there be some finality to it, as opposed to the whole judges rendering decisions thing.”
That’s what he expects from this upcoming encounter with Swick on FOX. Rather than sketch out a picture of how he’ll have his arm raised in victory next Saturday night, Johnson’s assessment of what will happen when the cage door closes is a stripped down vision that’s equal parts refreshing and realistic, and 100 percent cliché-free.
“I’m just preparing for an ass whipping, that’s about it. I’m preparing to get punched in the face, and be in spots to punch him back in the face. That’s really the extent of it for me. Mike Swick definitely has a lot of threats and potential to do bad things to me, and I think I pose the same kind of threats to him.
“I like the matchup; I think he and I are going to put on an amazing fight. There’s a 50 percent chance that I’m going to win this fight, and there’s a 100 percent chance that one of us is going to sleep.”
DaMarques Johnson - Raw, Honest, and 100 Percent Cliché-Free
"There’s a 50 percent chance that I’m going to win this fight, and there’s a 100 percent chance that one of us is going to sleep." - DaMarques Johnson