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Brett Johns on second calf-slicer win in UFC history: ‘I love doing crazy submissions’

Brett Johns’ 30-second submission victory over former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto was just the second calf-slicer finish in the UFC’s 24-year history.

And that’s just how the Welsh bantamweight likes it.

“I like doing crazy stuff when it comes to grappling,” Johns said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “I love doing crazy submissions.”

It was also a way to make himself some extra money, as the undefeated 25-year-old from Swansea, picked up a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus for his nifty move at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale in Las Vegas.

The swift finish came about as the result of a scramble after Soto shot for a single-leg takedown. At the time, Johns thought that he just got lucky with positioning. But in looking over the tape, he realizes he was already working for the move as the sequence unfolded, even if it was only in his subconscious at the time.

“Looking back, I thought he did take me down and he just rolled over me,” Johns said. “I thought that I fell down into it. But looking back on the video, he shot for the single leg, I wrap my arms around toward him, toward his backside area, and I grabbed my own foot, so in my head I must have had some sort of inkling it was there. Looking back at the time, I thought I fell into it, but realistically I went around and grabbed my foot, I pulled him over me, I was working for that sub when he shot for that takedown.”

That put Johns in the books with Charles Oliveira, who used a calf slicer to tap out Eric Wisely in 2012, as the only competitors every to successfully pull of the rare submission in the Octagon.

Johns has been on the wrong end of the move in practice, and having done so, can attest to why someone like Soto was so quick to tap once trapped.

“It’s a horrific little submission, and its a pretty painful one,” Johns said. “The best way to describe it was, when you get a door, and when it’s just about to shut, you put a plank of wood by the joint, obviously it’s going to snap off the hinges. And that’s the exact similar thing, but with the knee. It’s a horrific injury, it is. I’ve been badly hurt by it before and you struggle to walks for a couple days.”

Johns, however, is not about to let the win over Soto be his only moment in the spotlight. Far from it. The former Titan FC bantamweight champion is now 3-0 in the UFC, and while he might not quite be ready for the guys at the very top of the division, he believes he should fight someone just outside the top 10 next as he looks to continue climbing the ladder.

The UFC’s London date on March 17 against someone who has been yapping at him on Twitter would suit him just fine.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what I want to do next,” Johns said. “I know that London’s in March. That will be a nice one. We’ve got Marlon Vera on the internet, we’ve got Cody Stamman on the internet, we’ve got everyone on the internet. I’m not a guy who really cares about who I have next. From now on all, these fights are the hardest fights I’m ever going to have, so I want to go through every one of the top 15. I really do. So whoever they put next, I’ll be happy to fight.”

Johns is developing quite a following back home in Wales. He likens his path to the one paved by former two-weight world boxing champion Joe Calzaghe. Johns notes he checked Las Vegas, where Calzaghe competed, off his checklist with the Soto win, and he hopes to chart a similar direction home.

“I wanted to follow in similar footsteps,” Johns said. “He did Vegas, he did Bernard Hopkins. He also fought Roy Jones Jr. at MSG, that’s also another one on my list, and as you said before, Millenium Stadium, but you need a super-card to fill that place. You have about 80,000 seats or whatever it is, and then the next thing we got is about a 3,000 seat thing and it’s just not right for UFC. Everyone asks that question, when the UFC is coming to Wales, but we need to find a card that can slot nicely.”

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