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Michael Johnson Talks White's Flattering Remarks in TUF 12 Debut

The first episode of this season of The Ultimate Fighter featured 14 MMA prospects fighting their way onto the show, and none of them drew greater praise from UFC President Dana White than Michael Johnson, who was compared to Mike Tyson for the way he fought.

In an interview with, the 24-year-old Johnson talked about that fight, hearing the praise from White, and what he wants UFC fans to know about him.

Michael David Smith: What were your thoughts stepping into the Octagon for the first time? Were you nervous?
Not really nervous. More anxious just to get in there.

Did you know anything about Pablo Garza before the fight?
I knew a little bit about him, I knew he was a kickboxer. I had a little bit of a game plan, just basing it on what I had heard about his kickboxing, that I think I had enough time to put together a smart game plan.

As he watched you fight Dana White said, "He's a beast on the ground" and "He throws everything with bad intentions" and he even compared you to Mike Tyson. How did you feel about that?
I thought that was really exciting. I didn't expect to hear that from Dana White but it definitely made me feel great about myself as a fighter. He also came up to me and told me he thought I did well, the same things he said on camera.

Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you train?
I grew up in St. Louis, went to high school there, was a football player and ran track. I played a year of college at Central Methodist and then I did a year of wrestling in junior college at Meramec and after that I decided I wanted to try MMA. That's when I went to Springfield Fight Club.

I definitely thought The Ultimate Fighter, or getting in the UFC was something I wanted to do. I was a huge Chuck Liddell and a huge Quinton Jackson fan -- a big Rampage fan. I started finding favorite fighters like Georges St. Pierre and Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Rashad Evans.

What do you want UFC fans to know about you?
I just hope people know how hard I've worked to get where I am. I've really dedicated myself to this for the last four years. Now it's paying off.

Check back every Thursday morning for Johnson's take on the previous night's episode of The Ultimate Fighter 12.