Mr. Hollywood, Johnny Case (18-4) is set to make his UFC debut at this Friday’s Japan event from the historic Saitama Super Arena.
He was set to make his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 44 against Joe Ellenberger, however an eye injury forced him out of action just five days prior. The eye is completely fine now.
With over a year off, Johnny Case wants to unleash his inner animal
“To tell you the truth I didn’t even know I had the injury. Aside from after my last fight I had five days where I was seeing a really really bright flasher in my left eye. I just kind of wrote it off as a concussion and it went away after five days and it never really gave me any problems. It wasn’t until I went into the fight physical, they discovered I had the tear and we fixed it and everything was good.”
Having been a pro since 2007 Case has accumulated quite the record and is currently riding an eight-fight winning streak. The Alliance MMA product hasn’t lost since October 2010, but that loss is what drives him and he definitely remembers what it feels like to lose.
“I do know what it feels like and I never want to experience that again. That’s why I train as hard as I do and that’s why I go out there and I leave everything out there in the fight. Losing is a pretty sucky thing — it’s a big set back, not only in your career but also all the time you took to prepare for your fight. No one wants to work that hard and have it all go to spoil.”
His last time inside the cage was at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 10 when he earned a split decision against E.J. Brooks. It’s been over a year since that fight and Case feels like the layoff has made him more motivated — he is ready to unleash his inner animal.
“I really need a fist fight. As a fighter, fighting is what I enjoy doing. Without it, it feels like there is a big absence in my life. Going almost a whole year without a fight it makes you hungry and it makes you motivated. It really just turns you into an animal. Like a caged beast, poked with sticks and you know there is light at the end of the tunnel, you’re about to be in the cage and you just get to go out and attack somebody.”
This will be his first time setting foot inside the world renowned Octagon and with that often comes first time jitters. But for the 25-year-old he is taking this fight as he would any other fight.
“I feel very focused, I feel very grounded and I’m not really putting a lot of emphasis on this fight — it’s just another fight. It’s just a bonus being in the UFC. The UFC is the prestige place to be and they treat their fighters well — they treat them like rockstars. To be honest, I feel like that’s where I belong.I deserve that, I have worked long and hard and I feel like it’s time to start reaping the rewards from that.”
Case feels that fatherhood and family priorities kept him away from the UFC’s radar for these first seven years. He felt that he was ready for the Octagon competition on a couple of different occasions, but other things came up.
“I was trying to fly under the radar. Right when I was coming up and I thought for sure I was ready for the UFC, competition was right and I was really getting better I had my first son. As a father that was my first priority to make sure that my family was taken care of and to do what I could do to be the best that I could as a father. Then right when I felt like I was making ground there and then I was ready to get a fight with the UFC I had my second son. So that set me back a little bit longer. I had some stepping up as a father to do and I had to work some jobs to make sure that they were fed and taken care of. So here I am again, my kids are old enough now and I feel like I have a good enough table. Here we go, I’m ready to do this, I’m ready for the UFC and get that win.”
His opponent at UFC Fight Night 52, Kazuki Tokudome (12-5) is 1-2 inside the Octagon and Case feels that he is by far the better fighter in each and every aspect of the fight game.
The only place Tokudome could have the advantage is his durability and heart.
“He’s a very durable fight. He’s got a lot of heart and he can really take a punch. Not only take a punch and keep coming at ya, but he can take a punch and he can keep fighting, just like it never happened. I feel like that’s a big factor for him, he’s got a lot of durability and a lot of heart, but I think I have the standup and I’ve got the ground. I feel like his only advantage is to take me down and lay on me. I’ve seen his fights and I don’t see a high finishing rate, I don’t see him with a lot of power. Everyone can get knocked out and everybody can get submitted, but I think if I fight well like I know I really can, I think the only chance he’s got is catching me against the fence and dragging me down and laying on top of me for three rounds and that’s not something I’m going to let happen.”
Case joined the Alliance MMA team after going to a Myles Jury seminar. He looks at Jury like a brother, however the two are in the same weight class and a fight could ultimate take place.
The Iowa native has absolutely no desire to fight his teammate, but obviously if the championship is at stake that is a different story.
“I have no desire to fight my teammate. We are friends first and fighters second. To tell you the truth I have no desire to do that. If it came down to the championship title then obviously we’d have no choice, but there are so many other fighters in the lightweight division that I don’t foresee that happening. So no I wouldn’t fight my teammate.”
This next year could be a big one for Case and he has his sights set high.
“To go 3-0 in the UFC and to get one of them fancy fight bonuses. That’s kind of what I’m hunting for and I want to not only win fights, but I want to be very exciting. I want the fans to know that when I fight, I’m going to bring it every time and I’m going to put on a show.”