The lightweight contender knows Makhachev can be beaten for a second time, as long as he exploits the holes in Makhachev's skill set.
"I think I match up very good against him, I think we're kind of the antithesis to each other's styles. I think that it’s a difficult fight for me, but I'm as equally a difficult fight for him. Everybody thinks that he's just going to come in and wrestle me and destroy me, but people sleep on my ground game. The opponents that I have gotten so far from the UFC, there haven't been a lot of them other than Zhang Lipeng and Tae Hyun Bang that I've had to use a game plan (against). (I was thinking) 'I'm better than them on the ground and standing there, a little bit more dangerous.' So because of that, everybody just thinks that I'm a kickboxer. My ground game is much better than my kickboxing game, I was a ground guy way before I had a re-invisioning and re-evaluation...started to employ different weapons and different ways of moving. I'm striking and have become a lot more dangerous standing, at the heart of it, if I had to say which one is better than the other...I think that my ground game is a little bit better than my striking game. I'm not really worried about going to the ground with Islam Makhachev, I know a lot of people probably think I'm pretty crazy by saying that. Its not really a big deal, the guys good...he's very good at what he does...he's very good at what he does. There's a lot of things that he really doesn't do, he's very well rounded...but there's holes. He's good at kickboxing, he's very good at kickboxing. He's good at top game jiu-jitsu and he's got a decently dangerous guard. He's got good triangles and stuff from the guard, but there's still a lot of areas in the game that he doesn't really address. There smaller area, like they're not whole disciplines. There's still some holes I can hit and hack that system," says Johnson in an exclusive interview with Fight's James Lynch.
Johnson is on quite a streak of his own right now, as a victory over Makhachev would give the fighter five straight wins under the UFC banner.
Outside of being a UFC fighter, another role that fills Johnson's time is that of the interim president of Project Spearhead and despite some recently setbacks, one thing that Johnson feels is hopeful about is what the group is doing for the future of the sport.
"So we’re starting to get (union authorization) cards coming in again, finally...after this whole Leslie Smith debacle. Very annoying situation that happened, the UFC illegally firing her and punishing her for her union organizing efforts. That was actually collaborated by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), they found that Leslie's case did have merit and they were about to puruse legal action against the UFC...they were about to charge the UFC independent of Leslie Smith. Now (the) UFC...now Dana White...this fucking guy went over the NLRB's head, the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) version of the NLRB, the Pittsburgh branch. He went over their head to Washington D.C., I don't know...probably talked to (Donald) Trump since their butt buddies and got them to shut it down. So right now, how it stands right now...Washington (DC) is going to advise the Pittsburgh branch on whether or not they should pursue this legal action against the UFC. Really its just a waiting game...a stalling game, it illustrates what lengths the UFC is willing to go to in order to protect their monopoly...to protect this system they've created in order to oppress fighters and keep us down...keep wages down...keep our leverage at nothing and to keep our power at zero. Its despicable, I'm not going to stand for it. We're starting to see that more and more fighters are coming out of the woodwork and its not saying publicly the same, but starting to sign the cards and joining up. That shows solidarity and we're moving forward, we're gaining some momentum here and there's going to be some big developments coming through. There's so many legal cases against the UFC right now, there are so many its getting ridiculous. Its (coming) very soon, they're just holding on by a thread right now. Its going to be very soon, in the next couple of years your going to see huge changes in this game...guaranteed. Its an eventuality, they're just trying to postpone it and delay it," says Johnson.
UFC On Fox 30 takes place on Saturday, July 28 from the Scotiabank Center in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which airs live on Fox.