Michael Johnson had a lot to prove going into his main event fight against Dustin Poirier on Saturday night.
The veteran UFC lightweight was coming off a nine-month layoff and had a bitter taste in his mouth after losing a decision to Nate Diaz the last time he stepped foot in the Octagon.
As if the loss to Diaz didn’t hurt enough, Johnson then had to watch the brash Stockton, Calif. native move onto a pair of fights against Conor McGregor that earned him multi-millions over the past six months.
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So coming into his return to action in Hidalgo, TX, Johnson had a chip on his shoulder and that was only strengthened by the bold prediction he heard from his opponent as Poirier said he would win the fight and it would happen in devastating fashion.
Well half of that statement came true but it was Johnson delivering the jaw-dropping performance as he finished Poirier in less than two minutes into the first round.
As the fighters took to the center of the Octagon, Johnson immediately exerted himself with a noted speed advantage while firing off several rapid fire punches that forced Poirier to reset while trying to find his range.
Poirier is best known for his powerful punches so he tried to find a home for his strikes on the inside, but Johnson was simply too fast on his feet as he moved away and fired back with surgical precision.
One exchange opened a small cut under Poirier’s eye but the trickle of blood didn’t play a factor because Johnson put a stop to the fight just a few moments later.
Poirier surged forward with a combination of strikes but Johnson was quick with the counter and he unloaded a vicious right hand followed by a lightning quick left that put the American Top Team fighter down on the canvas.
Johnson followed up with a couple more strikes on the ground until the referee realized that Poirier was clearly down and out.
The stoppage came at just 1:35 into the first round.
"I say over and over again — I have the fastest hands in this division," Johnson said about the knockout. "I’m the most dangerous guy in this division. I’m going to test anybody. Give me my next victim. Anybody in this division. I’m coming for that title."
Following the end of the fight, Johnson stood over Poirier and taunted the Louisiana native after the two competitors got into a heated exchange at the weigh-ins on Friday. Minutes after the bout ended, Johnson actually issued an apology to Poirier during the FS1 post fight show while admitting that his emotions got the best of him after the finish.
"I had to apologize to Dustin afterwards for what I did. It was an emotional week," Johnson said.
One statement Johnson doesn’t regret was the tirade he aimed at Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz while taking shots at the fighters for what he called a glorified "sparring" session back at UFC 202 while he came out gunning for a knockout against Poirier on Saturday night.
Now Johnson is looking to get a big payday just like the millions McGregor and Diaz earned for their rematch back in August.
"I’m just coming in here just showing people that I’m serious in this division. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz getting paid that money and they’re out here scrapping and having a sparring match," Johnson shouted. "I come to finish fights. I come for the kill. Pay me, baby, what’s up?"
The win certainly made a huge statement for Johnson following back-to-back losses in his two previous fights as he climbs back up the top 10 rankings in the lightweight division. Johnson made it clear that in a perfect world he would book his next fight almost immediately as he targeted the UFC 205 show at Madison Square Garden in November.
"I want on that New York card," Johnson said. "Anybody, let’s go."