UFC officials obviously took notice of Michael Johnson’s desire to fight anyone as the surging lightweight has received the high-profile opportunity he was hoping for. “The Menace” will step in for an injured Ross Pearson to battle the dangerous Melvin Guillard in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 37 in England.
Pearson and Guillard were set to have a rematch on March 8 after their initial encounter at Fight Night 30 produced an unfortunate no-contest. Pearson was unable to continue after an accidental illegal knee from Guillard produced a severe cut on his forehead. ‘The Real Deal” was forced to withdraw from the rematch due to a knee injury.
Johnson gets the call after calling out Nate Diaz for a fight, and also offered to square off against the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov after the Russian’s fight against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 170 fell apart. Johnson can find himself knocking on top-10 territory in the 155-pound division if he can secure a third straight win.
He looked outstanding in his last two bouts, stopping the rugged Gleison Tibau in the second round of their contest at UFC 168 and dominating Joe Lauzon at Fight Night 26. The 14-8 Johnson finally looks as though it’s all come together at this stage of his career, and his striking has never looked better.
The matchup with Guillard shapes up as a stand-up war. “The Young Assassin” has always shown tremendous power inside the Octagon but has been plagued in the past by inconsistency. He has 31 career victories, with 20 having come via the knockout route. He’s been in with many of the division’s top 155-pound competitors during an extensive UFC career that has featured 21 appearances and five Fight of the Night bonuses.
Prior to the disappointing no-contest result against Pearson, Guillard had turned in a devastating performance in a second-round destruction of Mac Danzig at UFC on FOX 8.
While the Pearson-Guillard rematch would have been an exciting affair given both fighters’ tendency to produce action in the stand-up game, Johnson stacks up as a very solid replacement. He has tremendous confidence heading into this bout and with his preference to also stand and trade, this matchup with Guillard shapes up as a highly entertaining battle.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports