Michael Johnson is making a move to a new weight class in his hometown.
“The Menace” will drop down to featherweight and take on Darren Elkins at UFC St. Louis on Jan. 14, the UFC officially announced Tuesday. The bout was initially reported by Globo last month.
Also on the UFC Fight Night 124 card, Michael Santiago will take on Mads Burnell in another featherweight bout, sources told MMA Fighting on Tuesday. The UFC confirmed the matchup.
Johnson (17-12) has lost two straight and is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Justin Gaethje at the TUF 25 Finale back in July. The St. Louis native lost four of five at lightweight, but all against top competition, including Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz. Johnson, 31, does have a knockout win over Dustin Poirier and victories over Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza on his record.
Elkins (23-5) has won five straight and is on the best run of his lengthy career. The Team Alpha Male fighter is coming off a split decision win over Dennis Bermudez at UFC on FOX 25 in July. Elkins, 33, has been one of the most steady and consistent fighters in the featherweight division since making his UFC debut in 2010.
Santiago (21-10) is coming off a second-round submission loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC Rotterdam in September. He earned a UFC spot after winning by first-round knockout over the summer at a Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series show. Burnell (8-2) also fell in his UFC debut in Rotterdam, losing to Michel Prazeres by first-round submission.
UFC St. Louis does not yet have an official main event. But Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi, Paige VanZant vs. Jessica-Rose Clark and Vitor Belfort vs. Uriah Hall are all on the docket. It will mark the UFC’s first trip to St. Louis.