Charles Johnson knows what it takes to what it is like to step away from mixed martial arts and then return. Now 1-1 in the UFC, he’s slated to face Jimmy Flick who is making a similar journey, stepping back in the octagon at UFC Vegas 67.
Johnson (12-3) has been a professional fighter since 2016 and was on a hot streak to start his career, winning the first five fights of his 6-2 run. Fighting Brandon Royval in the LFA in 2018 Johnson lost consecutive contests for the first time, halting the momentum. A stint in Tiger Muay Thai and boxing kept him occupied, but it wasn’t the same. Then, Johnson pushed himself into a return to MMA that ultimately earned him a UFC roster spot last year.
After an impressive debut with the promotion in 2020, Flick (16-5-0) shocked everyone when he announced his retirement before his next fight.
Charles Johnson On Cage Rust For Jimmy Flick
When a fighter goes through a layoff, there’s understandably a concern for cage rust. Speaking with All Access MMA about the matchup just before the holidays, however, Johnson doesn’t think that will be a concern for his opponent, speaking from experience.
“It all depends on what he’s been doing,” Johnson said. “When I came after my two-year layoff, my first fight in LFA there was no cage rust, so, it just depends on what he’s been doing. I know he works his ass off.”
“I think he’ll show up. I think he’ll be fine. Honestly, he’s got plenty of experience, he trains hard, he’s got his mind made up on what he wants to do. It’s gonna be a hell of a fight.”
Charles Johnson Previews UFC Vegas 67 Fight With Jimmy Flick
Stylistically, Johnson and Flick have two different approaches inside the octagon. Flick has claimed all but two of his victories by submission, including a first-round flying triangle choke in his only UFC appearance in 2020. That kind of resume is exactly why it was stunning that the Dana White’s Contender Series Season 4 alumn retired before his next contest.
“It’s gonna be a dogfight, and I plan on getting my hand raised,” Johnson told AAMMA of the upcoming fight with Flick. “I plan on winning a majority of the positions. I plan on winning the majority of the striking and dictating the pace in there. I’m fully expecting a dogfight with Jimmy.”
Both fighters will see each other on short notice after Flick’s original opponent, Jeff Molina, was scratched due to his involvement with coach James Krause who is under investigation for fixing fights.
Dropping the “Prospect” Tag
Johnson certainly has the skill to finish Flick, owning eight early stoppages on his resume, including five by knockout. Fighting in the LFA in 2021 and 2022, “InnerG” won all four of his bouts, taking two by TKO and another with a second-round anaconda choke. He’s also coming off a split decision win at UFC Vegas 65. Scoring his first finish in the UFC against someone like Flick could do big things for Johnson in 2023 and his overall pursuit of the belt.
“We’ll see where it puts me,” Johnson said of what collecting a win on January 14th would mean for his goals. “I know people see Jimmy as a very phenomenal and very good fighter in the flyweight weight class, but there’s so many champions in there right now. Hopefully, we get a number next to our name after this one but if we don’t, I’d love to fight a number, a ranked guy.”
“I’m itching to get out of this prospect phase the UFC puts you through. I’m itching to get into a numbered opponent because I feel like all of the ranked guys are very comfortable, you know, and they’re picking and choosing fights. I just want to get in there with some of these ranked guys and, you know, get to it honestly. Start pushing towards getting to a belt. We’re in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The goal is to get to a belt, not fight a million f***ing people before you get there.”