By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans? Today I got to sit down with pro-MMA and Sambo fighter Johnson Jajoute. Johnson finished fifth in the world at 74 kilos in Combat Sambo and is 4-1 inside the cage. He will be returning to the cage at CFFC 66 on August 5, 2017, in Atlantic City, NJ. Let’s have a seat and talk with Johnson before his upcoming fight.
Nick: What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
Johnson: At first it was more of a discipline thing. It was empowering. I wanted to better myself as a human being. I wanted to be fit skillful and more intelligent in forms of combat. It’s part of life. It just is an improvement to myself. It’s almost like soul searching. It connects everything in my life together. I could not imagine my life without it. I will do something in combat sports until the day I die. Training, studying, teaching, or competing will be a part of my life.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train martial arts?
Johnson: I came from a boxing background. I started boxing at the age of 21. I’ve had some tough amateur fights. I boxed all the way to 2009. I was looking for a suitable boxing gym near me which I was unable to find. Eventually, I found an MMA gym that had a boxing program so I joined. They had a wrestling class one day after I was done boxing. I took the class and started to love wrestling. Then Jiu Jitsu and three months later I was in my first grappling tournament. Six months after that I took my first MMA fight. It has been all MMA since then until about a year and a half ago when I started training in Sambo.
Nick: What inspired you to pursue being a professional in combat sports?
Johnson: It was naturally the next thing to do. I began to train and practice. Then I went to be an amateur. Logically the next step was to go professional. These are the automatic steps in whichever combat craft you are in. It’s natural evolution to excel to the next step. It’s up to the person if they want to make that transition. Some just like training others want to go the distance.</span
Nick: You are an accomplished Sambo fighter. What is your current record?
Johnson: There isn’t really a record to go by. Everything is tournament style based. It matters where you placed in each tournament.
Nick: You recently fought in Sofia, Bulgaria during the World Sambo tournament where you finished fifth in the world. How does it feel to be ranked among the best on a global scale?
Johnson: It was one of the toughest experiences I have ever had in combat sports. It was also an amazing experience all the way around. When I went to weigh in there were 25 other guys weighing in from all different countries at my weight class. I was trying figure out how many times I would have to fight in a day. There were top MMA fighters there from all over the world competing in this tournament. I ended up having 5 matches with 5 different people. When the smoke cleared I was ranked number 5 in the world.
Nick: What is the difference between Sport Sambo and Combat Sambo which you participate in?
Johnson: Sport Sambo is Judo and Wrestling based with no chokes. Arm bars, knee bars, and leg locks are allowed but they have to be all straight locks.
Combat Sambo allows punches, kicks, knees, and headbutts included in with the throws and locks in Sport Sambo. The use of chokes is also allowed. Combat Sambo would be similar to MMA with a Gi on. Striking doesn’t count no matter how many you land unless you strike and your opponent lands on his back and you knock him out. That’s considered a fatality and the fight is over. There are a lot of big points for throws so there are many big throw attempts. Also if you hold down your opponent you gain points here as well. Every 5 seconds you hold them down is a point. The rules are slightly different between Combat and Sport. There is also an 8 point mercy rule inside of 5 minutes.
Nick: With taking time off from the cage due to other competition you have been very active. Do you think ring rust may play a factor in your upcoming MMA fight since it is not like Sambo?
Johnson: I have been fighting. If it’s in the cage or the mat. I stay active drilling, fighting, and helping to prepare teammates for MMA events.
Nick: Which do you think is more challenging Sambo or MMA?
Johnson: Definitely Sambo. It’s MMA with a Gi on. Think of all the moves that you do in MMA and get escapes. Now it adds cloth for someone to hang onto. It makes escapes and everything a lot harder. It’s also tournament based. You don’t get a full camp to fight one guy. You end up fighting 3 or 4 guys in one day and you never know who it is. You have to make adjustments immediately. You have to figure out what their base is and what they like to do and capitalize on it. Preparing for an MMA fight does get boring because i went from having very little time in Sambo to all this extra time in MMA to adjust.
Nick: How long have you been with MPR Endurance? Renzo Gracie Philly?
Johnson: I have been training with MPR for almost three years. I have been with Renzo Gracie Philly for a little over three years. I have a great mix training between both places.
Nick: August 5 you will be stepping back into the cage for CFFC in Atlantic City. You will be facing a tough opponent in 3-0 Cesar Balmaceda. How much do you know about your opponent prior to this fight?
Johnson: I know pretty much everything about him. He isn’t bringing anything I haven’t seen before. I don’t underestimate anyone. He is a tough guy and aggressive. He also has a game plan to deal with me. I train every part of the sport so I am ready wherever the fight goes.
Nick: you have a 75% finish rate while your opponent is at 33%. Do you feel that your high paced fighting style and ability to finish fights should give you the advantage?
Johnson: Yes I think that it would give me the upper hand but again I don’t underestimate anyone or take anything for granted.
Nick: How do you think you and your opponent match up style wise?
Johnson: I don’t know. I have seen his fights. He hasn’t fought anyone like me. I have fought tougher guys. I only have one loss and it’s to a person who is doing well in the UFC right now and it was via decision. I am curious to see how he responds to the game I bring. I’m a different breed.
Nick: Do you have a prediction for your fight?
Johnson: It’s hard to put out predictions. I am well rounded and will take whatever he gives me. I have a boxing background so I always look for knockouts but if you shoot bad I will take your back and choke you out. I’m good in every area so we can take the fight way out into deep waters. I have many tools and will use them all if I need to.
Nick: What would you say your best attribute is inside the cage?
Johnson: My striking is hard to match but my superpower is my ability to adjust. I will see what’s working and what’s not and capitalize right away. I pick up the timing your faults your strengths and find my spot. I am always aware of what is going on and analyze my opponent every second.
Nick: Since you have made this journey what advice can you give to new fighters wanting to make this a career?
Johnson: I always scream this at amateurs. They have a huge advantage that pros don’t have. They should be doing boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu, and whatever else you can. Keep competing, training, and learning. Once you go pro you will be a fierce fighter. You won’t be playing catch up. Once you turn pro in one field you are a pro in every field. If you have 15 or 20 amateur fights in each discipline you will be on par.
Nick: Who is your favorite MMA fighter past or present?
Johnson: Khabib Nurmagomedov right now. GHe is a monster on the ground. He is like Damien Maia with punches. He is also a former Sambo champion.
Nick: If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would it be? Why?
Johnson: Floyd Mayweather for sure. I based a lot of my boxing off of his style for years. I know all his timing and tricks since I have studied him for so long. He would be a great guy to fight. I would be able to mirror him.
Nick: McGregor vs. Mayweather who do you have?
Johnson: I don’t want to entertain that circus but I have to go with Mayweather. It’s a boxing match and not an MMA match. My boxing background has made me very effective in striking. The timing and distance are not the same. With all of those differences and going against the guy who is the best at it, you have to go with the guy who is in his element.
Nick: Johnson have you submitted to the takeover?
Johnson: This is Johnson Jajout and I have submitted to the takeover.
Johnson would like to thank his friends, family, coaches, supporters, and teammates. Without all of that, he wouldn’t be doing what he is today.
I would like to thank Johnson for taking some time out of his day with a fight coming up so soon. I wish him all the best of luck on August 5, 2017. Keep an eye out for him. I believe he will be doing big things that you don’t want to miss. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA