Changing Swings: Johnson talks about W-1 Opponent Switch


Johnson is ready to strike (photo by Martin Blais)

With watching the Major League Baseball playoffs over the last two weeks, a lot of batters are getting thrown curveballs and getting caught by surprise. With Tristan Johnson, he got the same thing with his fight at W-1: New Ground. Out is Will Romero and in comes Douglas Evans to face the Dartmouth native on October 23rd. While the fight has changed, so to will Johnson’s game plan.

“Will Romero was a striker like I am. We planned on it being a war,” says Johnson.  “I trained a lot of standup for this fight but I also trained a lot of wrestling for this fight and a lot of jiu jistu for this. You know I would have caught Will with some shots and took it to the ground to make him tired, make him wiry. With Evans and his wrestling I am training just to keep it standing. It’s a total 180.”

While Evans does bring in a big enough name for Johnson to still matchup with, it seems like the match between him and Romero is never going to happen. The fight has been scheduled a bunch of times and there have been either injuries or sanctioning issues to halt it. Even when the fight was expected to happen, there were forums and comments, including top mma news were people were voicing comments for Romero and thinking that he was going to win, although both had the same record going in. While people may say this and that, unless both guys ever get to fight each other one day, it is all talk for the time being.

“People can think a lot of stuff, it’s a fight.” says Johnson.  “If that was the case everybody would be in here fighting. If they could pick is so easy, we would all be millionaires. It doesn’t really go that easy. It’s a 50/50 chance for anybody. I would like to know why everybody thought he was going to come in and kick my ass so easy but I am not going to fight him anymore so that is for another time.”

With Johnson, he is one of the rising stars of the fight scene of Atlantic Canada. He first started training in boxing in his hometown of Digby, Nova Scotia. He went professional but then decided to switch to mixed martial arts. It has been a good move thus far for him. He started off on an impressive winning streak, going 5-0 with wins over fighters like Brad Duguay, Eric Leclaire and Tommy Pariseau and reaching as high as number 6 on the Canadian Featherweight rankings. His last fight however did not work in his favor as he lost to Guillaume Lamarche in August at Ringside: Invasion. Before the fight, Johnson has some shoulder problems that ended requiring surgery. While he knows he lost that night, he is taking some positives from the Lamarche outcome into his October 23rd bout.

“Everyone likes to get that first loss out of their mindset,” says Johnson.  “For me honestly, not taking anything away against Lamarche, I came off that shoulder surgery still not really too sure. I was supposed to be off for six months and I was back in three. I think I came back a little too early. I really didn’t have a training camp because of my shoulder. Now I have had a full training camp and it has motivated me on how to become more of a mixed martial artist and not just a striker.”

It will be a big test for him against Evans. Evans was signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship where he went 0-2. While he was never able to record a win inside the octagon, he did have tough tests against Roger Huerta and Mark Bocek. He has also fought in Elite XC and more recently in Shark Fights where he was the promotion’s Featherweight champion but lost in his last match against Ronnie Mann. Evans is more known for his skills on the ground, which makes it the perfect style clash to make it one of the more exciting fights on the W-1 card. There could be a surprise element with Johnson’s ground skills. When watching him train, he has improved on the ground. While he will more than likely try and keep this fight on the feet, he has the confidence if it should go to the mat.

“To be honest, I have noticed a big difference since my loss to Lamarche,” says Johnson.  “For that specific reason I have put a lot of studying to training some ground. I am actually glad you picked it up and noticed that I have gotten better. That gives me a little bit more confidence. I think that I have gotten better and now that someone on the outside has told me that, I know I have improved.”

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