After being a finalist on Spike's 'The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom' in 2009, DaMarques 'Darkness' Johnson has been able to parlay his time on the show into becoming one of the UFC more personable characters. Johnson most recently added to his 3-2 UFC record with his submission win over Mike Guymon this past Saturday night at UFC: Fight for the Troops 2.
That stoppage came after it appeared that Guymon had suffered an apparent back or rib injury. After Johnson was able to sink in a figure four body lock for positional control it didn't take long before Guymon was wailing in pain. The ghost of Ivan Salaverry had returned to the octagon.
"I know there's a lot of pressure put on the back. That's been done to me as well. It was just one of those things where it wasn't the finish I had in mind. It wasn't how I saw the fight ending in my head. It was just one of those things where he got hurt. The intent of that move wasn't to submit him. I was trying to get a hand free so that I could sink in a choke.
Feel anything shift?
"Everything is going so fast I couldn't really tell. You hear all kinds of weird things in there. It could have been his rib or his back. I'm not really sure. I'm hoping he's OK as far as no major damage ... other than him just being sore."
The figure four body lock has been made illegal in collegiate wrestling because of the amount of pressure placed on the spine. Should this move be allowed in MMA as a viable submission? Or — like in wrestling — should it go the way of the dodo?
"Well, no. It's still a legitimate submission so it should be legal. You can't punch people in wrestling either. It should still be allowed. You can do more damage punching someone in the head. It's a fist fight so weird things are going to happen."
The scene was made a touch weirder when Guymon abruptly announced his retirement backstage after the fight. Aside from maybe Lavar Arrington, I can't think of anyone who would be happy about sending someone off the battlefield.
"Yea man. I almost cried myself. Mike is a super nice guy. I think the sport needs guys like him. Guys with that kind of personality and openness so that we don't all look like neanderthal retards who pound on each other. I've known of Mike for awhile and it's sad to see him go. I'm sure he'll be around the shows and hanging out. It's sad but at the same time I'm happy for him."
I can't even imagine what it must be like to hang around a bunch of guys about to go fight in front of a crowd. Does the mood settle once it's all over with?
"Everyone is just happy to be done. A lot of time, stress, effort and focus go into everything we do. I've never been to college but it's kind of what I imagine finals being over to be like. You can kind of just kick back, have a beer and hang with your friends. No more pressure."
"I can't speak for Nick Diaz because I don't really know him. I've heard the stories. people are from different environments. He approaches the fight likes it's a real fight. I can respect that. I think a lot more people should keep it gangster that way. I like it. I've always been a Nick Diaz fan. I've been a Nate Diaz fan for awhile, too. I like the way they represent themselves and our sport."
More fortunate bloggers than I were actually present at the event last Saturday and were tweeting about the cold conditions in the drafting open hanger. It seemed to bother them more than it did the guys fighting shirtless.
"I had a really good warm-up but it was definitely cold. My mind was elsewhere getting ready for the fight. I felt it more so afterward. It was definitely chilly."
I thought it might be an issue for the fighter who went more than one round.
"No not really because by that time your body temperature has risen and you're moving and fighting your ass off. Probably getting punched in the face, too. You wouldn't notice the cold. No one in my locker room was complaining."
The weather may not have affected much, but what about the crowd? The space was much smaller and more intimate.
"Fighting in front of a whole bunch of troops just brought a different type of energy. These are all guys who are coming or going from Iraq and Afghanistan. Fighting is stressful but going over there and fighting people with bullets is far worse. Being a troop myself, it was awesome to be a part of something like that. It was a really fun 'coming full circle' type deal."
Seeing as DaMarques had a notable appearance on TUF, I had to get his take on the decision to remove the first elimination round. For the last few seasons fighters have had to win a fight on the first day in order to be cast. Now, the UFC will revert to its original method of simply handpicking its own group.
"As far as fighting or not fighting to get in the house? There have been lots of seasons where dudes didn't fight to get in the house. It's just kind of one of those things. I think as long as the talent is good the show will do well.
You end up fighting often and you don't get full recovery time. That's what makes the show so hard. A lot of people don't realize that. Now after a fight no matter how hard or light it was they're still going to give you two or three weeks to chill and recover. But in that environment? You fight one week, get about a week off, and then you're at it again. You're training the whole time. A lot of wear and tear and miles being put on your body."
Spike has really shied away from showing as much of the weight cutting. I think we have Gabe Ruediger to thank for that. You know it goes on, but production has definitely made the conscious choice to avoid showing its horrors to audiences.
"It's what I imagine living in the bad girls club house would be like. Everybody's weight is going to be close. No one gets monstrously huge because you won't be able to fight. You have to keep it low to be able to rehydrate and perform. Your weight is only going to get so high anyway because you're constantly burning calories. Seeing people suck in the sauna is kinda entertaining but if you've seen it once, you've seen it the whole time. Weight cutting sucks but I wouldn't know why they wouldn't show it."
"I'm going to go with the Steelers. I have a friend who plays for them. I'm just rooting for my boy, Steven Sylvester. He went to school with my sister so I've just followed him since he went to college. If I personally know someone it's a lot easier to be a fan."