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Jordan Johnson explains why he left the UFC to join the PFL

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Da Silva vs Johnson Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With a 4-0 record in the UFC and a 10-0 resume overall, Jordan Johnson appeared to be a prospect on the rise but following the conclusion of his first contract with the promotion he decided to sign elsewhere.

It’s a rarity in a sport largely dominated by the UFC that any up and coming fighter would opt to go to a different promotion but Johnson knew inking a multi-fight deal with upstart organization Professional Fighters League (PFL) was the best decision for him.

Now Johnson makes it clear that there was no bad blood leaving the UFC because the last thing he ever intended to do was burn bridges with his exit.

Instead, the 30-year old former University of Iowa wrestler explains that it really came down to a question of finances and PFL was just a better option right now.

“I’ve been pretty vocal about it. I enjoyed my time in the UFC, I love the UFC. A lot of guys leave the UFC and they’re all bitter about it but just for me where I’m at in my life, I have a family now, I have a child and I just need to make money,” Johnson explained when speaking to MMAFighting. “I need to make as much money as possible.

“Kind of talking about only fighting once or twice a year, the UFC wasn’t paying horrible but it wasn’t enough to provide me the security that I’d like to have. I am a fighter but I’m also a normal dude with a family and I have to be able to provide for my family and give them security and I wanted to be able to make as much money as possible. The PFL just made a lot of sense. So here I am.”

Johnson fought a total of four times over two years that he was with the UFC but he anticipates a much busier schedule now that he’s competing in the PFL.

As he prepares to make his debut in PFL on Thursday night, Johnson knows that his job now is just winning and then moving onto the next fight in anticipation of making it through the playoff system so he can hopefully compete for the $1 million grand prize in December.

That was perhaps the best selling point to Johnson when he was making a decision about where to fight next because PFL promises to keep him plenty busy with a seven-figure paycheck if he keeps on winning.

“It came down to how I could make the most money,” Johnson said. “You can make awesome money in the UFC. The guys who make a lot of money have been there for a long time. Where I’m at right now, I don’t want to make my family struggle. I want to provide. It’s as simple as that.

“I said you can make a lot of money in these other organizations but PFL was the only organization that had a contract for me that said ‘hey you do your job, we’re going to give you $1 million bucks’. So I mean it’s pretty simple. You can make a lot of money elsewhere but this was the only contract I saw that said come do your job and we’re going to pay you $1 million dollars.”

If there was one additional bonus that PFL offered it was the tournament style format where is ultimately the only thing that really matters.

Johnson understands how promotion works and he exchanged some trash talk with some of his past opponents but at the heart of it all, he’s an athlete who just wants to compete.

“I always said people can run their companies however they want, it’s their business. If they’re going to make money off of someone from WWE or a football player or whoever it is, if they can make money off of it, cool. That’s fine. That’s got to be the goal to make money,” Johnson said.

“I don’t have a WWE background. You’re never going to see me in a muscle building magazine. I fight and the PFL has that and you don’t have to be some rock star and you don’t have to trash talk. All you have to do is fight. I want to make money and it’s nice that I can be in the PFL and not have to do that. I can do my job and get paid.”