Johnny Case challenges Roberto de Souza for the lightweight championship at Rizin 35. This transpires on April 17th from Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan.
Case returns to MMA after winning three straight boxing bouts and maintaining a one hundred percent finishing rate in the sweet science.
I spoke with Case prior to this prizefight and excerpts from our chat are below.
The recent work at The MMA Lab ahead of this title bid
“That’s the thing too. So this was by far the best camp I’ve ever had in my career. It was like, every single day I woke up, and it didn’t matter. Like in the past, a camp is brutal. You wake up mornings, you’re like oh I’m sore. I don’t know, I might take the morning off. Every single day I woke up, it didn’t matter if I was sore, it didn’t matter. I was so happy to get up out of bed and get to the gym and just put in the work.”
“It was so good to go back to The MMA Lab with my brothers and sisters. Guys that want me to win as much as I want to win. And that leveled me up in such a big way. It lit my fire, I’m carrying all of those guys with me, and I just feel fucking unstoppable right now.”
If Case thinks this rematch with Roberto Satoshi de Souza will play out a great deal different than the first fight
“Well, I definitely noticed an improvement in his mindset. He’s definitely looked like a champion in his last outings. Honestly though, I didn’t even get to fight. I didn’t get to fight him the first time. From the moment he drew my card in that tournament matchup, he was scared and I saw it. I saw it on his face, even in the ring that night. He did not want to be there. So I really didn’t even get to fight the real Roberto Satoshi de Souza. So I think that loss to me, I think that kind of got to him.”
“He knew that he went out there and he didn’t perform to the best of his ability. I think that kind of got to him and that really kind of leveled him up as well. No doubt he’s looked like a champion. But I still have no doubt in my mind, I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna repeat the same thing. The same thing is gonna happen. I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna kick his ass. He’s a great fighter, he’s a great champion, but he’s not to my level.”
Johnny Case continued, “I know that and I’m not saying that in a cocky way. I’m not saying that in an arrogant way. I just know I’m gonna make him stand in that fire with me and I know he’s going to wilt. He’s not gonna want to be there and it’s going to be the same outcome. That’s going to be me getting my hand raised, no matter what. Knockout, submission, TKO, decision, it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna win this fight.”
Who Case is sparring with mostly ahead of Rizin 35
“My main training partner for this whole camp was Benson Henderson. Former UFC champion, former WEC champion. One of the best guys in the world. Phenomenal fighter, phenomenal jiu-jitsu, striking, and wrestling. Going with him, Drakkar Klose, going with Tanquinho (Augusto) Mendes, all the best guys there. They gave me truly a better version of Satoshi in my opinion. They’re more well-rounded. Now Satoshi is a specialist. He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal jiu-jitsu guy.”
“His wrestling and his striking are not near the level of the guys that I went with preparing for this fight. So going in there with those guys and just having the best camp of my life. Performing the best every single day, I got better and better. Got better every sparring session (and) I leveled up. Having that, I feel so confident. I feel unstoppable. ”
Johnny Case continued, “Not in like an arrogant way or not in a false sense of confidence. But I know I put in the work and I know my bros. I know those guys gave me the best of themselves for this preparation. I know that and I’m going into that ring knowing that I’m the best. I’m the better fighter. I am a world champion. I’m gonna go out there and I just got to show it.”
Johnny Case vs Roberto de Souza II
If partaking in another lightweight grand prix holds a meaningful level of importance to Case
“Without a doubt, man. That was one of the coolest things that has happened in my career. To be a part of such a legendary thing as a Rizin Grand Prix. Making it all the way and losing to the champion. It was a bittersweet ending. I went out there and I did my best, but I came up short. So getting the chance to have some redemption to go out there and win a Grand Prix tournament, man, that would just be a feather in my cap. So hopefully that opportunity comes and if it does, I’m going to embrace it. I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
Parting thoughts for Johnny Case
“I just want to say thank you so much for your time. Thank you for the platform. To kind of get my voice out there a little bit. Just so grateful to be in this position and have this opportunity. I just want to thank everybody, everybody that’s had my back. My family, everybody that’s got me. When I had to borrow money. Loaning me money. Letting me stay at their house, letting me use a car. The list goes on and on and on.”
“I wish I could name you all but you guys know who you are. I can’t thank you guys enough. I’m carrying all your love and support into the ring with me. I just want to tell you guys, I love you and I’m so grateful to be here. I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna win this title for us. For all of us. Each and every one of you has a piece of this title. I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna show out for us all.”
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.