Kajan Johnson Talks Rustam Khabilov Matchup, Rocky Relationship With UFC & Last Fight On Contract


Kajan Johnson is back inside of the Octagon at UFC Fight Night Moscow, taking on Rustam Khabilov in a lightweight division attraction.

The Project Spearhead member is back in action after a loss to Islam Makhachev at UFC On Fox 30 and it was Johnson who wanted the quick turnaround.

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“I think I was supposed to fight Rustam before, I was supposed to fight him instead of Stevie Ray and he pulled out (of the fight)…he had that knee surgery. Stevie stepped in and we got it done and then after this fight, not the last fight, but the (Islam) Makhachev fight…I wasn’t very happy. So the night after the fight, I was just thinking ‘what am I doing? Whats happening?’ The next morning, I just woke up and texted my manager right away. That was the actual first thing I did as soon as I woke up, I text my manager ‘get me on the short notice list.’ I wanted to re-up, I am healthy and good to go…lets do it again. Then the UFC came back in a bout a week, saying Khabilov in Moscow. I was like ‘yeah…OK…lets do it.’ Its a very similar opponent to Makhachev…slightly different, I think Rustam has a little bit better boxing than Islam did. Islam had a greater submission threat, Rustam will throw you on your head for sure. Once he’s on the ground, he’s more worried about keeping you there…working on ground and pound. A little bit less of a submission threat, but more of a striking threat…both on the feet and on the ground. I’m excited to be able to take the knowledge that I got from the Islam fight…the lessons that I got from that, go and apply it immediately to a similar style of fighter,” says Johnson in an exclusive interview with Fightful’s James Lynch.

Johnson is actually undefeated when competing on “Fight Night” cards, having gone 3-0-0 in past bouts at such events.

It is Johnson who serves as the underdog in this fight according to odds makers, but that’s a status that Johnson doesn’t really care about.

“I’m always the underdog, I think the last fight that I wasn’t the underdog was (against) Naoyuki Kotani maybe…in Tokyo. Which is quite some time ago now, so I’m always the underdog…the underdog king. I don’t care, it doesn’t matter to me because all these odds are based on other peoples perceptions. Most of these people are perceiving it from a mindset and a knowledge base that isn’t really based in true understanding of martial arts, these aren’t the worlds greatest martial artists that are assessing the fight. They’re odds makers and bet placers and people like that, I don’t really acre what other people think…it doesn’t really affect me. All that really matters is my own perception, so moving forward, I’m just going to continue believing in myself. I’m sure that will shown when we get to the Octagon,” says Johnson.

UFC Fight Night Moscow takes place on Saturday, September 15 from the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Russia with Mark Hunt and Alexey Oleinik headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass.

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