Will Brooks wants to teach Michael Johnson a lesson in respect
Will Brooks has a thing about respect.
The highly-touted lightweight contender understands that trash talk is part of the game, and he has no problem engaging with an opponent in a war of words ahead of a fight.
But when the battle is over, Brooks believes that all grudges should be left behind and fighters should show each other respect after a victory or a defeat.
That’s why he was so angry after he watched Michael Johnson stand over top of Dustin Poirier and taunted Brooks’ teammate after earning a knockout victory a couple of weeks earlier. Johnson later apologized for the antics, but Brooks says the Menace’s actions inside the Octagon were unacceptable — and he wants to teach him a thing or two about respect.
"I’m definitely going to be looking for that fight," Brooks told FOX Sports. "I know a lot of people are going to make it seem like I want to avenge my buddy, but that’s not accurate at all. I hate disrespect. I can’t stand it. Me personally, I was never raised like that. My father always taught me to show respect to a man, whether you win or lose, you show respect, you show humility.
"I’ve had coaches that I’ve had as different role models in my life teach me the same lesson so to see a man go out there and compete and he won the fight fair and square. I can’t take that away from him. He was the better man that night. But to carry yourself in that demeanor — to carry yourself that way and to be so unprofessional about things in that type of situation — it was just ugly. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I don’t think it has any place in this sport."
Brooks has his own fight to worry about this Saturday when he faces Alex Oliveira in the Fight Night co-main event in Portland (airing live on FS1 starting at 11 p.m. ET).
Still, Brooks can’t set aside how much he’d love to face Johnson after he finishes with Oliveira. Of course, Johnson has his hands full with his own fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 205 on Nov. 12. But if the stars align, Brooks would like nothing more than to make Johnson his next fight.
I look to put my hands on him and after I beat him, I want to show him how you're supposed to carry yourself after you beat someone.
— Will Brooks
"Be that role model for him so he can have a good example to see that’s how you carry yourself after a victory or a loss," Brooks said.
"I definitely will be looking for Michael Johnson."
As angry as Johnson’s actions made him that night, Brooks also can’t ignore that the former "Ultimate Fighter" competitor is a top ranked lightweight in the UFC and that’s a spot he covets.
So in a way Brooks would be killing two birds with one stone — taking out a fighter he believes needs to be shown some respect while also beating a competitor ranked near the top of the lightweight division.
"Why not go out there and try and steal that from him and at the same time teach him a lesson. Hell yeah, I’m going to look for him," Brooks said.
Before he can get to Johnson, Brooks first has to get past Oliveira and that’s no easy task. Oliveira has been a very tough competitor throughout his UFC career while building a 4-1 record over his last five fights with his only loss coming to Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in a welterweight bout.
Brooks isn’t looking past Oliveira but he also isn’t putting pressure on himself to make this co-main event fight some kind of showcase so that he can send a message to the rest of the lightweight division.
From the day Brooks left Bellator MMA as the best lightweight on their roster and then signed with the UFC, he knew the eyeballs were on him and he wouldn’t want it any other way.
"I don’t see any statements that need to be made," Brooks said. "I think I’m a magnet for attention.
"I’m just going to go out there and fight and chopping down that tree and when that tree falls and the sun shines, I’ll be basking in the light and I’ll continue to carry myself that way."