On Saturday night, Brett Johns might not have walked out with the CWFC bantamweight belt, but he earned at least one new fan.
Prior to his match against James Brum, Johns had been a fighter who’s skills I respected but that I remained unsure of, edging to the opinion that the more experienced Brum might prove too much, too soon for the young Welshman.
This feeling was only exacerbated when Johns proceeded to miss weight, which is so often a sign of a poor performance to come, combined with a sense that something was wrong in camp, be it physical or mental that caused the lapse in weight management and who knows what other shortcoming.
It would have been so easy for Johns to fold under the pressure, already knowing he’s not leaving as champion, facing one of the best in Europe and in front of an expectant hometown crowd, a mere mortal might give up inside – not necessarily consciously – and phone in a lacklustre performance.
That path was not for Brett, who proceeded to put in a sterling and above all, mature performance against Brum en route to becoming the first man to outpoint the (now former) master of the close-decision-victory.
Sticking with a tried & true formula, Johns kept the fight on his terms, grinding Brum against the cage and taking him down at will (although admittedly, rarely keeping him there for long) throughout the fight en route to a comfortable decision victory.
As Brum felt the decision slipping away he increasingly tried to push Johns to deviate from his game-plan, engaging in some plays from the Nick Diaz playbook in an attempt to incense the young Welshman.
To his massive credit, Johns barely even blinked and rounded out a championship calibre performance with a classy post-fight interview. He might not have the belt, but he’s still the Man in the Cage Warriors Bantamweight division.
Despite missing weight, which tends to irk the most understanding of promoters and matchmakers, I can’t see him being shitlisted by Cage Warriors and a return title shot at the soonest possibility has to be in the offing.
The list of potential opponents is impressive with the likes Ronnie Mann, Cory Tait and Toni Tauru heading up an exciting roster the future of the Cage Warriors Bantamweight division is very bright indeed and I expect Johns to be front & centre in that.
(photo from http://www.cagewarriors.com)