There have been ample sacrifices that people around the globe have been forced to make throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, not the least of which has been perseverance in the absence of sports. Fight sport fans have been somewhat fortunate, with the UFC’s stubbornness to succumb to this disease, and the persistence of Dana White to put on shows for the last two months, despite other major sports organizations being unable, and/or unwilling, to do so. Following in the UFC’s footsteps, regional promotions from several states have begun booking and hosting fight cards with success. Atlas Fights looks to be one of the first promotions on the Gulf Coast to resume live fights, and they’ve got a stellar card in the works. Atlas Fights 54 – Biloxi MMA Beach Bash will be held on Saturday, August 1st, from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi. With the return of live fights, I wanted to reach out to some of the professionals fighting on this card to help have their stories told.
Omar Johnson is a professional fighter out of Mobile, Alabama, with a record of 6-3, and he’s currently the #2 ranked Lightweight in the state of Mississippi. After beginning his career on a combined (amateur and professional) 11 fight win streak, Johnson has fallen short in his last 3, including a 2-fight stint with Bellator. He will look to get back on track as he takes on Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship veteran Michael McDonald at Atlas Fights 54 – Biloxi MMA Beach Bash on Saturday, August 1st. So, we decided to reach out to Omar Johnson to help get his story to you!
Every superhero has an origin story. What’s yours? Where do you come from? What got you into fighting?
I grew up in Mobile, AL. Mobile is home to arguably some of the best athletes in the country. Growing up in that environment was literally sink or swim. Facing that level of competition, starting at a young age, groomed me into the athlete I am today.
What’s a typical week like for you?
A typical week for me starts early and ends late. I am a full-time husband, father, security sales consultant and real-estate investor. Between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm it is all business through meetings, phone calls, and emails. Training times vary based on my work schedule, but I always get at least 1 workout in for the day. Outside of training and work, all of my time is spent with my wife Kayla, and our sons, Kyler and Karson.
“Nothing compares to the feeling of being locked in with someone who physically wants to do you harm. Call me crazy, but I get a kick out of that challenge.”
Where are you training, and with whom do you get the most reps?
I train with a host of some of the best guys in the area. My home gym is and always will be Spartan Fitness or SBG Birmingham in Birmingham, AL. Luckily throughout my career I have met a ton of fighters, so the list of guys I work with would be too many to name. If I had to choose two people it would Hollis Sylvester and Tyler Hill, both of those guys have provided a ton of help since I moved down to Mobile.
What do you like most about fighting? What do you feel is your biggest strength?
I love the competition involved in fighting. Mixed Martial Arts is one of, if not the, purest form of competing. I have played a host of sports throughout my life, including college football, but nothing compares to the feeling of being locked in with someone who physically wants to do you harm. Call me crazy, but I get a kick out of that challenge. My biggest strength is my preparation. As far as intangibles, I am not sure, but I am sure most would say it is my striking ability.
What was it like the first time that you stepped into the cage? What was going through your mind?
The first time in the cage was a wild ride. I THOUGHT I was prepared, but looking back on it I was not. From a physical standpoint I was ready, but mentally it took a second because until you are in there getting punched you never really know how you will react. I reacted well, to say the least, and pulled off a unanimous decision against an ammy with a 10-1 record at the time.
“I just need to go be Omar Johnson on fight night. When I am on and firing on all cylinders, there is not a man on this planet I truly feel can beat me.”
You started your career with an 11-fight win streak (5 ammy fights and 6 pro), but you’ve fallen short in your last 3. What do you feel you need to do to get back in the W column?
I just need to go be Omar Johnson on fight night. When I am on and firing on all cylinders, there is not a man on this planet I truly feel can beat me. I had some hiccups the last few times at bat but I’ve learned from my mistakes. Honestly the 3 losses I have, all occurred at the right time and put me on the path I am on today. I am thankful for those learning experiences.
You’re fighting Mike McDonald, a brown belt and BKFC vet. Without revealing too much, what do you think he brings to this fight, and what have you been doing to prepare?
He brings toughness and a willingness to fight. As far as skillset, he has proven he can compete at a high level with some of the best guys in our area. In regards to preparation, I have not done anything special. I know what Michael is bringing to the table and I will be prepared.
You and your team have a bit of a pre-fight trek heading down to Biloxi. How do you relax on the ride?
If there is a weight cut involved, there is no relaxation, lol. If I had to choose a way of relaxing, I typically play the fight out in my head over and over again. Going through different scenarios helps put my mind at ease because if and when a situation arises during the fight I have been there mentally already.
Who has been your biggest challenge in the cage thus far and why?
The biggest challenge in the cage thus far has been Matt Elkins. We went to war as amateurs and eventually became training partners. What made that fight difficult was that Matt took all my shots and stayed in front of me. Despite being completely winded heading into the 3rd round, he never folded. Hats off to my brother.
How have you been staying sane during the Covid-19 pandemic and the quarantine? Has it affected your training at all?
Honestly I am home body outside of training and work, so staying home during Covid was not a problem. The extra time has given me ample time to finish some of the books on my reading list and to work on some much needed side projects. I understand we are having difficult times right now, but I believe there are always bright spots and opportunities during rough times. In regards to training, of course there was little to no gym interaction, but I did what I could by staying in shape. I figured that was one of the few things I could control, so I focused my attention on my cardio and staying sharp mentally by watching a ton of film. I am huge on film study.
If you liked this article, don’t forget to share, like and subscribe – and go ahead and like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram @fightsportfocus. You can catch Omar in his upcoming fight with Michael McDonald at Atlas Fights 54 – Biloxi MMA Beach Bash on Saturday, August 1st, from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi. To purchase tickets, please visit http://www.atlasfights.com/ or http://www.mscoastcoliseum.com.