Miles Johns explains why he called for Cole Smith one day after DWCS win

Miles Johns knew exactly who he wanted to face in his UFC debut, so he asked – and he received.

The recent “Dana White’s Contender Series” signee Johns (9-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will take on “ideal” opponent Cole Smith (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) on the prelims of UFC on ESPN+ 16, which takes place Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The card streams in its entirety on ESPN+.

The morning after Johns was signed on DWCS in late June, he woke up to a 5 a.m. surge of adrenaline. This was not unusual for Johns, who immediately began to review his performance the night prior. When he checked Twitter, the comments and messages were overwhelming. However, one tweet in particular stood out above all else.

The tweet suggested Johns fight undefeated Canadian bantamweight Cole Smith, who had picked up his first promotional victory over Mitch Gagnon in Ottawa earlier that month.

“For some reason, when I saw that tweet, it just stuck with me,” Johns told MMA Junkie. “It’s just like a little intuition. I just really had a feeling that was going to happen. Not to mention, when I saw Cole fight for the first time in his debut, I said that’d be a great fight for us. He’s undefeated. He’s tough.”

“It’s nothing personal against him. He’s a good, tough opponent (with an) undefeated record. He got the short-notice fight I wanted, and he’s outside of LFA. It’s not like I don’t want to fight people in LFA, but it was just interesting to get somebody outside.”

His opponent Smith grew up in Squamish, British Columbia, less than an hour away from where the two fighters will collide Saturday night. However, Johns has no qualms about entering into enemy territory. In fact, he always envisioned his UFC debut would come during a venture into unfamiliar lands.

“When you make your UFC debut, I’ve always pictured myself having to go through somewhere like that,” Johns said. “Like traveling to Brazil and fighting in enemy territory or something like that. I like to compete at the highest level with the biggest, brightest lights and the most pressure on. That’s when I really thrive.

“So just going in there, I know he’s going to bring a certain type of energy because it is his backyard. I know the fans are going to bring a certain type of energy, so it’s going to be a really fun experience.”

Smith is just happy to switch things up. For much of his pro career he’s been the hometown hero. Prior to his most recent bout on DWCS, the Fortis MMA product had not competed outside of his backyard of Dallas since his pro debut.

“I’ve been fighting people in my backyard pretty much my whole career with LFA always coming to Dallas, so I’ve been planning for years to go somewhere else and fight in somebody else’s backyard for my debut,” Johns said. “The time has finally come.

It took Johns nine professional fights and nine professional wins to get to the UFC, but here he is. The former LFA bantamweight champion is focused, but appreciative, as he enters his UFC debut Saturday. The 25-year-old fighter said he’s itching to finally “free” himself when he steps into the cage in Vancouver.

“It’s pretty crazy that it’s actually here now and that it’s actually fight week,” Johns said. “It’s pretty surreal. I’m excited, and I’m ready. I’ve been ready to fight for two weeks. This camp has been a long one. I’m ready to be done with this and just get in there and be free. My mind turns free when I’m in the cage. Until then, it’s just thinking about so many things.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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