Former World Martial Mania Federation champion Mike "Cobrafast" Johnson will be back in the fight game later this month, competing in the Black Dragon Fighting Society tournament in Orlando, Fla.
The 24-year-old from Manchester last fought May 18 last year, losing a controversial, nine-round unanimous decision to Andre "The Giant" Blignaut in his first and only WMMF title defense in Westminster.
Johnson will leave for Orlando May 14 for the two-day elimination tournament, starting May 16.
The BDFS tournament is very different from the kickboxing-like WMMF bouts. There are no weight divisions. All bouts have a 10-minute time limit, and you can win by forfeit, knockout or pin fall. The fight does not take place in a boxing ring, but on a mat in much the same fashion as wrestling. Winners advance until only two fighters remain.
"I'm feeling great," Johnson said. "With no weight classes, I felt it was important to add some weight, so I put on 15 pounds, and I'm up to 190.
"I haven't lost any speed, and I've definitely gained some power," said Johnson, who fought Blignaut last May at 175 pounds.
Johnson is no stranger to the annual BDFS tournament. When he first won the WMMF title two years ago in South Africa, he also came home with the United States and World BDFS titles, going through four competitors.
In 1989, he won the United States BDFS title -- advancing in five bouts before losing by knockout in the World title bout. It was the first tournament he entered.
"I'm definitely hungry," he said. "It took me a while to get my head back on straight after the decision," he said of the loss to Blignaut. "The training also was tough, being a year older, but that's when the hunger comes in.
"I'm going to go down there and come home with the world title. Nothing is going to stop me; I'm going to fight to the end. And then I'm going to call Andre [Blignaut]."
Johnson plans to marry in August and said he would like one last fight against Blignaut. It would be their third and deciding fight -- Johnson knocked out Blignaut to win the WMMF title in South Africa before losing the unanimous decision last May.
"I'd like to promote one last fight -- my retiring fight against Andre to settle the score. I know I beat him, and I just want to prove to myself and show everyone I can knock him out," Johnson said. "A third and deciding fight -- it would be a nice way to go out."