Johnny Case on “Complicated” Rizin Lightweight Title Scene
Case was once again a guest on Bowks Talking Bouts to discuss returning to the Rizin New Year’s Eve tradition after a few years away, the complex lightweight title hierarchy in Rizin FF, plus so much more. Excerpts from our chat are below.
Performing on a New Year’s Eve card for the first time in a few years
“Man, Rizin has just been so amazing with me. From the very first fight I had with (Yusuke) Yachi, that was a New Year’s Eve card. The only New Year’s Eve cards I missed were due to COVID. So I’ve been fortunate to fight on quite a bit of these cards. Just to have that kind of support and that kind of backing by Rizin, man, there’s nothing that feels better. The Japanese fans, fighting in Saitama on New Year’s Eve, that’s legendary stuff. It feels really good to be a part of that. More so than any place I’ve ever been in my career.”
If any adapting was required for the relatively late notice opponent switch for Rizin 40
“You know, not so much. I kind of approached the fight just like every other fight. I obviously study a little bit about what my opponent’s strengths are, what their weaknesses are. But that’s such a small part, it all comes down to what I do. My preparation, how I go out there, and how I perform. I know how to go out there and perform to the best of my ability. Wherever the fight goes, you know, I’m going to adjust. That doesn’t matter who the opponent is.”
“So obviously the difference between (Luiz) Gustavo versus ‘Tyson’ (Nobumitsu Osawa) was just the pressure. Gustavo has got that Wanderlei Silva style. Straight-forward pressure, gonna be in your face, and he’s going to make it a dog fight. Whereas I knew ‘Tyson’ was a little more calculated with his striking. Was going to try to work on his counters. That’s really the only difference between opponent changes at the last minute.”
Possibly eyeing another crack at Rizin’s lightweight belt if the Luiz Gustavo bout gets re-booked as a title eliminator and the complex title hierarchy at 155 pounds with Case now training out of Bonsai Jiu Jitsu
“Yeah but now here’s where it gets complicated. Because it’s like I’m 1-1 with ‘Satoshi’ (Roberto de Souza), right. He’s like a brother to me now. Brought me out there and it’s like being a world champion means that I’d have to fight him again. It’s like, man, I really don’t want to have to fight a brother, you know. So it’s like I don’t know if by the end of the year I’ll be ready. But I don’t know exactly what ‘Satoshi’ has planned for his MMA career. But you know, I kind of just have grace with this. When it’s my time to fight, I’ll fight.”
“Satoshi knows I want to be a champion too you know. He knows I’ve got a family. So if that happens and we have to fight each other then I know he’ll understand. We can set our friendship aside and handle our business like men. But you know, I’d rather not have that fight. Especially by the end of the year, you know (laughs). So who knows? I like to take it slow, maybe get another win. I don’t know what Gustavo’s healing timeline is. But maybe I get a win, Gustavo comes back, gets a fight, and then we fight. So maybe a year or two down the line, who knows?”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.