What do Mary Poppins and Tim Kennedy have in common?
By Nick Barringer
The answer is UFC heavyweight and National Guardsman Timothy Johnson. I had the pleasure of speaking with the brawling North Dakotan to discuss his training, love for the fine arts, and his upcoming bout with fellow UFC heavyweight Jared Rosholt this Saturday in Nashville.
What is something most people don’t know about you and would be surprised to find out?
I’ll have to think about that, most people probably figured out I grew up on the farm. Hmmm, I enjoy going to plays.
You’re a fan of the fine arts?
Yes I am.
What was the last play you went to?
Jersey Boys before that, Mary Poppins.
Never would have guessed.
Do you have a special pre-fight meal?
Not really, generally my stomach is pretty empty on fight day. I eat a little something, nothing special.
Do you have to cut weight at all to make 265?
I walk around at 275 or 280 so I cut a little water weight the last few days before the fight but that is about it.
If Dana White called you and told you your fight had been switched to a tag team event; who would be your tag team partner and why?
Can it be any weight class?
Yes, your choice.
Obviously I have to go Tim Kennedy.
Do I even need to ask why?
He is a Green Beret. Do I need any other reason? Plus I think we would work well together.
What does a typical day of training look like for you?
Generally in the mornings I get up and get an early jog in around 8 to get the blood flowing. For the afternoon I’ll do a circuit or go over some technique or possibly spar. Evenings are mostly sparring and/or grappling.
What adjective best describes your fighting style?
Dirty boxing in the clinch is your specialty.
Yes, I’m not a technical striker. I will never try to act like I am. I am a brawler; it is who I am and what I do.
So you are looking to do what Derrick Lewis did to Rosholt?
Yes, looking to keep it on the feet as much as I can. I think our striking is pretty equal so whoever wins that battle should be doing alright.
What should people expect to see when they watch you fight?
Would a flying triangle be wrong to say? No, I’m not doing a flying triangle. The people that watch my fights they know I usually start out on the losing end of it but I’m an opportunist fighter and when I see an opening I don’t miss it. So surprising would be the best way to describe it.
How has being a Soldier impacted your fighting and your fighting impacted being a Soldier.
It hasn’t impacted too much. Early on, if a fight was on a drill weekend I would have to get it approved. It didn’t get approved all the time because at that point it was looked at as more of a hobby than a job. But the last couple of years, especially now that I’m in the UFC, they have been very supportive of my fighting. So I go to drill and sometimes I have to go fight but it has not really impacted either profession all that much.
Who was your inspiration to be a fighter?
I’ve been asked that question a couple of times and I don’t have a real answer. I kind of fell into fighting by accident. It was just something to do as a new challenge. Never really can come up with any one person. The closest I can say is the Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar fight. It was just throwing technique to the wind and two guys displaying the will to win. There was nothing nice or neat about it. Just two guys slugging it out. That it was drew me to the sport.
I was really expecting you to say “The Predator” Don Frye because of the stache.
Yea, I could tell you were expecting it. Yup people expect Don Frye or Dan Severn. I actually grew a mustache by accident and it just caught fire. It has become bigger than me so now I got to have it.
It has almost become your trademark because you don’t have any sort of fighting nickname do you?
No, I don’t. I always felt that sort of thing has to be given and not made up.
Thank you for your time, I know you have a tough fight in front of you but you haven’t lost in your last eight fights so I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Tim Johnson is an extremely nice guy. Truth be told, I actually messed up the time I was supposed to call him by an hour and he was not the least bit agitated. His pleasant demeanor lends one to think of him as a “Gentle Giant”. But his personality outside the cage could not be more diametrically opposed to what it is inside the cage. Timothy Johnson is a savage. Just as his stache will not see a razor, his fights will not see a judge’s scorecard. Seven of his nine fights have not made it out of the first round and all of his victories are by stoppage. He is not some over paid prima donna athlete who complains about practice. He works a job, serves his country, and fights. I don’t think you get anymore RU or Unapologetically American than that. Be sure to support Tim this Saturday on the UFC Fight Night main card on Fox Sports 1 at 7pm ET and follow him on twitter @tbeartim for fight updates, mustache grooming tips, and theatrical reviews.