Prospect in the Spotlight (Aug 9-10): Taylor Johnson

Introduction

Tuesday, August 6th, American middleweight prospect Taylor Johnson will be in action for Dana White’s Contender Series, where he will be looking to earn a win over Andre Muniz. He will be looking to score yet another win, as Johnson looks to potentially earn a UFC contract. He represents Victory MMA, an up-and-coming camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Wrestling: It’s obvious that Johnson has a collegiate wrestling background. Don’t believe me? Watch every single one of his fights. Johnson is an absolute power shooter. He can use technique, but most of the time, he just bull rushes guys and plants their ass on the mat. There’s not much to do about it either. Johnson is so strong and explosive that if he puts his hands on you, it’s almost a certainty that you’re going down. He keeps you down too. His top position is very heavy. He doesn’t just lay there, though. He flanks to a position where he can do heavy damage in the form of ground-and-pound. It’s how he stops fights. He has good cardio too, even though it doesn’t show because he ends fights so quickly. This means he can effectively shoot all fight long.

Power Striking: Whether it’s on the feet or on the ground (usually), Johnson is a very powerful striker. The man has sledge hammers for hands. On the feet, his striking isn’t that of Conor McGregor’s, but it is very powerful. His best power striking comes on the mat with his aforementioned ground-and-pound. Johnson has very heavy, devastating ground striking that does damage quickly and ends fights violently. Whether he’s throwing fists or elbows, you’re not going to eat many of either before you lose consciousness or the ref has to step in and save you. It’s old school Tito Ortiz-like GNP that makes Johnson’s ground game as exciting as it is violent.

Needs Improvement

Inexperience/Question Marks:  Right now, it’s very hard to find a weakness in Johnson’s game. The guy looks like a straight blue chipper. However, he’s just five fights into his pro MMA career, with his opponents combined records sitting at 12-6 (pro debut came against 0-0 Jamal Pogues, who is coincidentally on this season of the Contender Series). Because of that, it’s hard to completely gauge where Johnson is at. Yes, he’s a high-motor individual who has been dominant in his early career. But, how will he eventually react when he’s pulled into deep water? What happens when he’s finally put in the cage with a savvy veteran or a guy who can counter his wrestling effectively? Can he adjust on the fly? I guess we will find out with his opponent, Muniz, a 21-pro fight vet and a man taking to the Contender Series cage for the second time. If Johnson can succeed here, he’s truly ready for the UFC Octagon.

Outlook

Top-15 MW: Given Johnson’s dominating ability, high-octane style and rugged disposition, it’s hard to see him not being successful in the UFC. He’s going to continue developing his all-around game, but in the meantime, it’s hard to see a lot of the 185-pound division stopping his wrestling onslaught. As said, his style reminds me a lot of a young Tito Ortiz. His wrestling is high-level enough to carry him in most fights, and once he puts everything together, this is a guy that I think will be in contender talks for a period of time. He just needs to keep taking fights, keep sharpening his tools and keep proving himself with a continual step up in competition.

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