The Professional Fighters League (PFL) recently announced their full 2019 season roster. In the second round of roster selections, Jordan “Big Swinging” Johnson was announced as part of their light heavyweight division. Jordan Johnson brings an undefeated record with him to the PFL and a lot of intrigue as it’s not very often that the UFC releases a young fighter from its roster. The PFL, was able to make a statement with the signing, indicating that they are bringing in talented fighters that people are talking about.
In his last bout, Johnson defeated Adam Yandiev at UFC Fight Night 136 in September of 2018. After that fight, he told reporters that it could be his last fight for the promotion since his contract was up and they weren’t close on numbers. He has no regrets about saying that.
“No, I don’t regret saying it. I meant it, I felt like I was worth more than what the offer was for so I wanted to go see if I could get what I wanted. So I don’t regret it. I’m not bitter with the UFC, I love the UFC, I think it’s a great organization. I really enjoyed my time there and they can run their business however they want to run it. So, they can pay their fighters whatever they want to pay their fighters, it’s up to the fighters ultimately if they want to sign the contracts or not and I didn’t.”
Johnson made his intentions clear about what his free agency period was all about, simply put, it was about the money.
“I wanted to go wherever I was going to make the most money, whoever gave me the opportunity was where I was going to go.”
The former division one wrestler didn’t think the PFL would initially be an option for him because he planned on fighting while their initial season was under way. But free agency dragged on and he wasn’t able to get the deal he wanted. Though he did have an offer he was about to take but he said PFL made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
In his video announcing his signing with the PFL, Johnson touched upon treating fighters fairly and providing opportunities. He specifically was discussing the format the PFL offers and that he is able to make a good living while fighting under the PFL banner.
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“I think I said that fighters are compensated appropriately and there are no politics. I know what I’m getting paid and I’m happy with it and it’s better than what a lot of other guys get pain in other organizations. I said there’s no matchmaking, there’s no politics involved, you know you have great fighters in other organization who in their opinion and other peoples opinion should be getting bigger and better fights or fighting for the title and sometimes they get leap-frogged by guys not as good or might not deserve it cause those guys might sell might sell more pay per views or what not and with the PFL it’s not how its ran. It’s ran off results, which I like.”
Johnson last fought at middleweight which he intended to stay at, however the PFL decided to dissolve that division and replace it with the women’s lightweight division. Because of that, Johnson will fight in the light heavyweight division, which he has fought in several times in his career.
“I wanted to fight at middleweight, I definitely am a middleweight, I can fight at 205, I’ve had a lot of fights at 205. The thing about 205 is, I’ve always been encouraged to fight at 205. It’s been this division that, promoters, organizations everybody wants 205 pounders and so for me to advance my career as fast as possible, light heavyweight was the weight class for me to do that, that’s why I spent so much time at light heavyweight. Now coming over to the PFL and the middleweight division is gone, it’s either 170 or 205. And I don’t think now, especially with five fights in six months or whatever it is I don’t think it’s the time to make 170, and I think I’d actually make it but I’d probably die. 205, here I am, I’m back.”
The format presents intriguing scenarios as fighters make the playoffs off a point system which rewards finishes. Johnson doesn’t see that as a problem as he sees himself as a finisher. In his pro career, Johnson has finished four of his opponents including his last bout against Yandiev. The PFL also doesn’t allow elbows, to avoid major cuts and fighters having to miss the quick turnaround during the season but Johnson doesn’t believe that rule will really affect him either.
“In my entire fighting career, I believe I’ve thrown one elbow and I think I missed by tow or three feet. There not being any elbows in this, I’m ok with.”
As far as competition is concerned, Johnson is impressed with the PFL light heavyweight division but he isn’t looking past his opponent.
“There’s a lot of tough guys, you know it’s for a million bucks so it’s not like I’m fighting guys at a smoker, there’s a lot of tough guys. They make everyone work to get that million bucks.”
“Right now, I have my opponent and that’s who I’m getting ready for.”
As far as if he wins the million dollars, he has “big” plans.
“I’m probably buying a new minivan.”
You can watch Johnson compete at PFL 3 on June 6. He will be competing on the main card against Maxim Grishin which airs on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET. (Fight was announced after the interview took place)