Jimi Manuwa: I’m not taking a step backwards at UFC 191 against Anthony Johnson
On March 8, 2014, UK slugger Jimi Manuwa lost for the first time in his professional MMA career. Then, he had to wait over a year to get his chance to fight again and get the taste of defeat out of his mouth.
When the "Poster Boy" got back in the win column with a decision victory over Jan Blachowicz last April, he wasn’t relieved as most fighters are after a bout. "It wasn’t a sense of relief," he told FOX Sports.
"I knew I was going to win. I always know I’m going to win. It’s just about fighting on the night and how you feel on the night."
Manuwa was confident and cool about the fight in large part because of how he’d spent the past year since losing by TKO to Alexander Gustafsson. In short, the 35-year-old got back on his grind and improved himself.
"I spent the time improving my skills and getting better," he said.
"I never stopped training and developing my skills. It’s all about getting better."
Because he felt himself improving so much, Manuwa insists that it wasn’t particularly difficult for him to have to wait so long to get back in the cage. "It’s never been hard not fighting because I’m always training, learning, and I enjoy learning," he explained.
"The fight comes when the fight comes. I fight when I’m ready. I always knew that I was destined to be at the top. I’m not going to be hanging around the middle of the division. That’s not my purpose."
To be at the top of the light heavyweight division, Manuwa has to beat the very best. So, he was happy to draw former title challenger Anthony Johnson at this Saturday’s UFC 191 in Las Vegas.
"I was excited when they offered me the match," he said. "I’m ready for anyone in the division."
Manuwa knows that Johnson is a serious one-strike KO threat just like himself. More than a specific technical or tactical advantage, however, the Brit relies on an unshakable bullheaded mentality as he looks towards the big bout. "I’m not one for predicting but I just know," he said.
"I’ve just got this belief in myself, and he’s probably got the same belief. But, I can’t go in there and lose. I’ve had a good camp. I’m fit, I’m ready. How the hell is he going to beat me? That’s what I always think in my fights. I’m just going to fight the way I fight.
"No one is going to bully me in the cage. I will not be bullied. I will not step back –nit is not who I am. We are going to be two trains meeting in the middle of the cage. Let’s see who gets pushed back. I’m not the one who is going to take a step backwards."