By Raphael Garcia
Michael Julian Johnson is a testament to the age-old idea about fighting records and mixed martial arts. The 17-10 lightweight earned what was perhaps his biggest win to date when he defeated Dustin Poirier at UFC Fight Night 94. Over his career, Johnson has experienced a number of ups and downs, but his win this past Saturday night may be the most important in determining the future of “The Menace.”
Poirier was clearly the favorite heading into this fight. The former featherweight was riding a four-fight win streak and the move to 155 pounds was a huge boost to his career. Yet Johnson needed less than two minutes to land a massive punch and stop the Louisiana native. That shot ended Poirier’s winning streak andt also gave Johnson his first his first win in more than a year, halting a two-fight losing streak that had many MMA pundits questioning his position in the division. Johnson has a long track record of up and down performances. When he joined the 12th season of The Ultimate Fighter, he was expected to win the entire competition. Jonathan Brookins snatched that opportunity away, but Johnson is the only man from that season still competing in the Octagon. Nearly six years later he’s been rising and falling at a consistent pace. On two separate occasions
The question now becomes where Johnson can go from this point. He’s already faced many of the men ranked ahead of him, achieving varying levels of success. It’s still too early to relegate Johnson to “gatekeeper” status, but it would be difficult to book him against the fighters in the top of the division, as his name doesn’t carry as much value as it once did. However, two names that stand out are Michael Chiesa and Rafael dos Anjos, with Chiesa looking like the better candidate.
UFC Fight Night 94: Johnson vs. Poirier took place on September 17, 2016 at State Farm Arena in Hildalgo, Texas.