John Howard will be fighting for his third straight UFC victory when he meets Ryan LaFlare on April 11 at UFC Fight Night 40.
Ahead of the bout, Howard joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss his opponent, his improvement and more.
On being the underdog so often: “I don’t get it and I don’t know why. People sometimes don’t do their research. They think because I lost three times in a row that I must suck or something, but the reality is, look who I lost to. I lost to top-tier people. I didn’t lose to no bums. But it’s OK, man. I like being a sleeper. … It makes my life a little easier, not being the favorite. I’m supposed to lose. I go in there like, whatever. If I lose, I can hold my head up high because the pressure’s on him. The pressure’s not really on me, so I’m not worried about it.”
On how much he’s improved since his first run in the UFC: “I’m much better. When I was first in the UFC, I was a 20-year-old kid doing stupid stuff, doing stupid things. I wasn’t really training. I wasn’t as disciplined. I was just using my natural ability, but now I’m a little bit different. I’m a lot more disciplined, a lot more technical. I went back to my basics. That’s what I was missing. I was too keen on knocking people out and just throwing wild punches and not really being a clean striker, as I showcased against [Siyar] Bahadurzada. He’s an excellent kickboxer and I feel in my fight that I outkickboxed him. I did outgrapple him a little bit, but for the most part I did outkickbox him. I got to showcase that my skill is really legit, where I can be a K-1 kickboxer if I wanted to.”
On his status in the UFC: “Right now I like the position I’m at. I like fighting up-and-comers. Basically I feel like I’m a gatekeeper for the top-10 people and I like that. I like my position right now because I get to prove myself. … I believe I do need to prove myself to the UFC and to the MMA world that I’m still relevant and I’m something to deal with. If they keep me in the situation I’m at, just keep getting me these up-and-comers, yeah, I’m cool with that. I don’t mind pulling a Jon Fitch, go eight straight wins, eight in the UFC and then get a title shot. I have no problem doing that.”
On LaFlare: “I’m hoping it’s a striking match. I like the way he fights. He stands in the pocket and he bangs. I really hope he wants to bang with me because that’s my thing.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:02:15).