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Brett Johns admits he was ‘struggling to enjoy’ MMA before Aljamain Sterling loss

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Sterling vs Johns Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Johns has changed his mental approach to the fight game following the first loss of his career, a decision defeat to Aljamain Sterling at UFC Atlantic City.

The Welsh bantamweight will get a second chance to get a win over a top 10 adversary when he meets Pedro Munhoz at UFC 227, but he admitted that he had to change his outlook on his profession in the lead up to the contest.

“It’s been a different camp,” Johns told MMA Fighting. “Not so much in the physical side of things, but more so the mental approach. It would be nice to cancel out that last performance; to me it was a shower of sh*t, to be honest. I just want an impressive win to get me back in the column after that.”

“Pikey” insisted that the Sterling loss has reminded him that he needs to enjoy his sport more.

“Whether that loss turns out to be a good thing or bad thing, it’s made me realize that I need to enjoy what I do more. I’ll be honest, ahead of my last fight this whole game became a job to me. I put in a lot of work for a lot of years to get into a situation where this could be my full time job, then all of a sudden preparing for the biggest fight of my life started to make me feel like I was back working a 9-to-5,” he explained.

“I was struggling to enjoy it. The loss to Sterling kind of made me snap out of that. My brother and my coaches sat me down and reminded me of everything I had to do to make this my career. They noticed that I had a different mentality ahead of the Sterling. I get to go all over the world doing what I love. A lot of people from where I live will never go to Vegas or any of these places and I needed to remind myself of that. I took things for granted and at the end of the day, I just wasn’t me in the Octagon that day.”

Several sequences of his fight with Sterling repeatedly flash through John’s mind when he thinks about that night in Atlantic City. As far as he’s concerned, world champions are created when an athlete constantly focuses on their flaws and looks eradicate them from their games.

“80 percent of it was bad as far as I’m concerned,” Brett replied forthrightly. “I consider myself to be an elite grappler and I had an opportunity to take his back in the first round and I made stupid mistake. I was pulling my hair out watching it back. By the third round, I think I was completely mentally fatigued.

“I like to give myself a hard time when I don’t perform. World champions don’t pat themselves on the back after a defeat. All I know is, performances like mine against Aljo won’t help me become the best in the world. If I fight like that again I will lose. Maybe against some lower ranked guys, but not the top 15 in the world.”

Johns believes that a win over ninth-ranked Pedro Munhoz could put him right back on track.

“The only positive I took from it was that even on my worst day I can hang in there with one of the best guys. He’s one of the best guys in the world and even though I lost in a pretty one-sided fashion, I think I did show people that I do deserve to be among the best bantamweights in the world.

“I really think that a win over Pedro Munhoz can put me back in that mind frame and get some momentum behind me as I look to tackle the top-10 again. That’s my goal now and I think a win over Pedro would really help me achieve that.”