‘He’s my first love’ – Was NBA player James Johnson a mixed martial artist?

Before entering the National Basketball Association (NBA), Brooklyn Nets star James Johnson was an undefeated MMA fighter.

Brooklyn Nets powerhouse forward James Johnson has spent the last 13 years playing in the NBA. However, he was an awesome MMA fighter with seven MMA matches under his belt and an undefeated 20-0 record in kickboxing before that.

Johnson has a second-tier black belt in martial arts. He won his first MMA fight at the age of 18, dominating and knocking out his opponent in 97 seconds. He received the “Little Ali” award for his outstanding footwork in battles similar to those of the late Muhammad Ali.

The love of MMA runs in the blood of the Johnson family. In fact, his parents and siblings are black belts in mixed martial arts.

Throughout his NBA career, Johnson was often asked about his MMA background. He was often asked questions to explain their relationship with basketball.

According to the 6-foot-7 front, basketball fights are almost the same. For Johnson, the only difference is that MMA is a game and basketball is a team game.

During a press conference at the Dallas Mavericks in 2020, he said:

“In combat you always train that person and it was just you against him. But in basketball it’s a team game so you have to do what you have to do. But when I got on the court or in the MMA game, I felt the same.”

Watch Johnson’s full interview below:

James Johnson set to join UFC after NBA career

James Johnson is 35 years old and is currently playing his 14th season in the NBA. Although he has played around 20 minutes each time so far, ‘blood sport‘ knows that basketball is a boy’s sport.

When asked if he could be released to test UFC work if Dana White drove, Johnson said he would be very happy to return to “his first love.” In an interview with Fanatics View in 2019, he said:

“I’ve been fighting all my life… This is my first love, my first love. I would like to [fighting for the UFC after my NBA career]. The spirit of the fighter, the heart of the fighter does not go away. I still see guys right now trying to kick, [like] Chuck Liddell, [Anderson] Silva. You have guys who can escape the game.”

Read also : Shaquille O’Neal knocked out an NBA teammate with a sleeping hold because of an MMA fight

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