Johnson said he would need a year of additional training to improve his ground game. Otherwise, he thinks he would be able to beat the UFC heavyweight legend.

Credit: Mark Brown, Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP - Scanpix
Credit Mark Brown, Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP - Scanpix

James Johnson attended martial arts classes as a kid. Although he chose a basketball career, he continued to practice the discipline since. Now, he thinks that he could overcome one of the best fighters in UFC history.

In the NBA Rookie Life with Ryan Hollins podcast, the 36-year-old forward has shared that he still undergoes martial arts training.

"It's something I'd really love to do. 'Till this day, I'm training and enjoying it, trying to get conditioning from something different than running lines," Johnson said. "As far as that fighting goes, it's something I really would love to do."

"I would take it very seriously," he declared.

Last season in the NBA, Johnson averaged 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Asked to name his favorite fighter, Johnson immediately went with Jon 'Bones' Jones, a heavyweight UFC fighter often regarded as one of the best in history.

"I'd rock with Jones, obviously. He's got that dawg in him, Jones Bones. He's an all-around fighter to me. When you look at some of his technique, it's so sharp. Just the technique alone will cut you," the NBA player explained.

"The fighting game is so packed, it's hard to weed out the best," he continued. "There's so much content and YouTube content out there, it's hard to determine unless you see them face-to-face if they really got that fight in them."

After making this comment, Johnson was asked whether he would consider going to fighting after the end of his NBA career. "I would need a year," Johnson said.

As the talk went on, the NBA forward started explaining how the additional training would prepare him for a fight against Jones.

"My standup game is great, but we all know Jones is a collegiate wrestler, really good on the ground, and that's not my forte. I can get on the ground, I can roll a little bit, rumble a little bit, but to his level - I would definitely need a year to work on counters and defenses against it so we can stand on our feet," Johnson explained.

"I like fighting in close. I don't even like to use the space, I like being close," the player explained. "I feel like I generate more power in close than make a wide swing or a long swing, I feel that takes forever."

In an additional podcast excerpt shared on Instagram, the show provided a glimpse into Johnson's thinking.

"I think I could beat him for real. Like I said, with a year of training defense... I just need ground defense," he declared.

"He started learning how to use your hands and your feet after college. I've been punching and kicking since I was five, six years old. The same thing for me is the opposite thing for him because he's been wrestling for that long, learning all his wrestling moves and things like that for that long," Johnson said.

"For me, you know what I mean, I started learning the wrestling game and all that in middle school," the 36-year-old said. "He has a big advantage there because no one wants to get on the floor, but as long as I can keep from going on the floor, I win."

We want to hear from you. Be the first to comment!
Thank you for reporting a comment

Add comment

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website