The co-headliner of UFC Fight Night 61 is a match up between Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza. Both men are prime examples of the depth and talent that can be found in what is widely perceived as the most talented division in the UFC.

Currently Johnson is ranked at #12 in the division, and Barboza is sitting in the sixth spot. Barboza has the better record in both the short term and the long term, but Johnson is riding a three fight while Barboza’s streak is two.

For Johnson, the win would elevate him into the top 10, and earn him respect that he may already deserve. Though he had back-to-back losses between the end of 2012 and early 2013, two years later he has defeated three very game opponents.

For Johnson this fight is the moment where he can break out and really make a name for himself. The challenge he faces is a difficult one, and he will have to be calculated if he is to have his hand raised. Here are the keys to victory for Johnson.

Wrestling

Johnson is a well rounded, and continually developing fighter, but there are some holes in his game which he must protect. In his professional mixed martial arts career he has accrued eight losses. Out of those eight losses, he has been defeated seventy-five percent of the time by submission. Barboza may not be known for his ground game, but it is still dangerous territory for Johnson. While going to the ground nullifies his opponent’s elite level striking, he is going to have to be dominant, and intelligent if it goes to the mat to prevent another submission loss.

Push the Pace

Barboza has only lost twice, and both of those losses have been in the first round. Johnson’s best chance is to immediately rush in and make it uncomfortable for Barboza. If he allows Barboza to settle into his groove it is either going to be a long night of getting picked apart, or a short night that will end up on a highlight reel. Johnson has skills in the striking department, and power to boot, but he is going to have to make Barboza fight his fight.

Capitalize on opportunities 

If Johnson succeeds in keeping Barboza out of his rhythm, the next step is going to be taking advantage of any mistake he makes. Jaime Varner’s fight against Barboza is a good blue print to follow. If Barboza is rushed, and Johnson can land some leather there is a great chance that he can knock him out. Johnson has seven victories by either TKO or KO, and that is most likely how he wins this fight.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.