Michael Johnson was admittedly a little emotional after knocking out Dustin Poirier in the UFC Fight Night headliner in Hidalgo, Texas, on Saturday night.
The Blackzilians representative entered the bout on a two-fight losing streak and risked falling out of relevance with a third straight defeat. Instead, “The Menace” sent a reminder to the rest of the division just how dangerous he can be when he’s on his game, as he starched Poirier with a counter right hook and added a couple nails in the coffin on his reeling foe to earn an emphatic stoppage 1:35 into round one.
“I was a cornered man,” Johnson said on Fox Sports 1. “I was fighting with my back against the wall, and I really needed to get in there and get a dominant victory and I did that. So I’m very happy.”
However, it was Johnson’s action’s in the immediate aftermath of his victory that initially stood out. As officials attended to the Poirier, Johnson returned to his fallen opponent and stood over him, taunting with arms outstretched. Johnson regretted his actions once the adrenaline stopped flowing.
“My hat’s off to Dustin. I hope he recovers well,” Johnson said. “I’m going to go on the air and apologize for my actions afterwards. I just got really emotional throughout the week. I apologize to Dustin.”
Entering the bout, Poirier was the one with momentum after garnering four straight victories at 155 pounds since moving up from featherweight. Even though Johnson is just barely removed from back-to-back losses to Nate Diaz and Beneil Dariush, he believes his win over “The Diamond” puts him right back in the title discussion.
“These rankings mean nothing,” he said. “The only spot that matters is the top spot and the champion. I beat two guys that are in the top 5 already…I think I’m at the top of the division. If nobody is ready to fight for the title, I’m right there for a No. 1 contender fight. But I’ll take on all competitors right now.”
In addition to Poirier, Johnson owns wins over top 155-pound talents such as Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza in the Octagon. Like many of his fellow fighters, Johnson has seen the paychecks earned by Diaz and Conor McGregor in recent months. Now he wants a bigger piece of the pie, and he has a decent idea of how to add some zeroes to his bank account.
“Anthony Pettis, Khabib [Nurmagomedov] if he’s not fighting for the title. I want the best of the best in this division and I want the guys at the top,” Johnson said. “I want big money right now. Diaz and McGregor made serious dough and I’m trying to put my name on that money and get paid.”