61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565Name: Omar Johnson Age: 26 Weight Class: Welterweight Record: 3-0 Fighting Out Of: Birmingham, AL (Spartan MMA & Fitness) Next Fight: Brad Thompson (Strikehard 40 – Aug. 22nd) While many athletes get into MMA for the love of competition or the ability to inflict pain on your opponent, Omar Johnson’s foray into the sport was a bit different. Johnson was a former defensive back at Samford University and was looking to enhance his conditioning program. “It was a pretty funny story.” Johnson told MMAOddsBreaker “I started out looking for some extra conditioning work, supplementing for my football training.  I was 18-years old and I just happened to Google boxing in the area. I didn’t even know what MMA was at the time. So I found [Spartan MMA and Fitness] and my first day I actually sparred with [UFC bantamweight] Marcus Brimage. He gave me a black eye, that was on a Saturday and I said I’ll be back that Monday and eight years later here I am. I didn’t really see a future in [MMA] until my last year of football. I spoke with the owner and my coach at the time Chris Connelly, he mentioned me possibly fighting and I said ‘why not?’  After I finished off football I went ahead jumped into the MMA arena and it’s been good ever since then.” Johnson admits he wasn’t a fan of the UFC from the very beginning, but like most became enthralled with the sport after seeing Stephen Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin at the TUF Finale in 2005. “It started with Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar fight. I remember watching that, I was sitting at home one evening and I think I caught it in the second round and they were all good and bloody. I didn’t know what was really going on. After that point I started looking into it and following the sport more closely at that point. But I didn’t become super involved with it until I actually started training myself. Once I started training I realized what all it takes and what it goes into it. It was a new found respect at that point.” Despite being a high level athlete in college, Johnson explained that there were physical challenges transitioning from football to MMA. “[Conditioning] it’s night and day.” Johnson explained “I was in perfect condition for football; I just wanted to add something extra. I assumed I could hop right in and I’d be ok. My first class within 10 minutes of doing a boxing/kickboxing class I was out of breath, I felt like I didn’t know what was going on. Felt like I never had done anything athletic in my life, it’s completely different. With football you go hard for 4 seconds but you can rest for 30 seconds. But it’s not the case with MMA, its constant movement and you’re always doing something.” Johnson wasn’t alone in that department as his teammate Eryk Anders was also a collegiate football player turn MMA fighter. Having him and the leadership of Brimage has provided an easier transition to MMA. “It’s great man having those guys around. Especially with Marcus because his career started before mine. It’s good to look up to him and see how he handles things. So I have that leadership as a resource. Eryk joined our team after he started his MMA career. But he’s one of my good friends now and one of my best training partners. We put a lot of rounds in and spent a lot of time on the mat together. We’re pretty close, working hand and hand together.” Prior to his upcoming fight next month, Johnson had the opportunity to tryout for Season 22 of The Ultimate Fighter. Despite not being selected, the experience taught him a lot and provided more focus in his MMA career. “It was a great learning experience. A lot of guys had way more fights than me. Ultimately they went with [those guys] which is completely understandable. I feel like I can hold my own with 95% of them if not all of them on any given night. I can’t go against with what they say. I just keep on fighting and keep knocking guys out. Eventually I’ll get there.” Had Johnson made the cut, he did have a preference for which team he would have hypothetically liked to have been on between coaches Urijah Faber and Conor McGregor. “I like to consider myself a standup fighter, so of course Conor McGregor is one of the best there is right now in the standup department. But Uriah Faber I would say is more well rounded. Just from a fans standpoint I’d say Conor’s team, but to improve as a fighter I’d definitely say Urijah.” On August 22nd, Johnson faces off with Brad Thompson, a former boxer turned MMA fighter. Despite his opponent having a technical edge in the standup department, the 26-year old is comfortable anywhere the fight goes. “It’s been hard to find tape on him; I know he’s a former retired boxer. With that being said his standup is going to be his bread and butter. Knowing he’s a former professional boxer I’ll kind know what to expect. I don’t feel like I’ll be outmatched in the standup department by any means. If need be I can turn this into a kickboxing match. Or if I really want to, I could take this fight to the ground and finish him there. I don’t really try to plan too much out, I kind of just go in there and get a feeling in the first 30 seconds and go from there. Let the fight play out from there.” Ahead of this matchup Johnson is splitting time at Spartin MMA and Fitness along with Alan Belchers gym in Gulfport, MI. While he’s generally not into making predictions, he is predicting this fight will not go the full three rounds. “I’m not big on predictions; but I can say I will be victorious. I don’t plan on this going to the judges. I want to keep this professional streak going, nothing but finishes. If a submission presents itself I’ll take it, if he slips up and I can knock him out then I’ll take that as well. I will definitely be victorious for sure and it won’t go to the judges.”   You can check out Omar on Twitter @O_Johnson251 and on Facebook at Omar Johnson  You can also listen to the full audio version of this interview on an Extra edition of The Parting Shot Podcast below (32 mins in)