James Johnson has been playing in the NBA ever since the 2009/10 campaign. Today, the 36-year-old is part of the Pacers roster, but back when he was a kid he recalls he would practice marital arts and has kept at it ever since. As his career is closely coming to an end, he believes he can beat one of the best fighters in UFC history.
In this week’s appearance in the “NBA Rookie Life with Ryan Hollins” podcast, the foward talked about his chances of making it professionally as a fighter.
“It’s something I’d really love to do. ‘Till this day, I’m training and enjoying it, trying to get conditioning from something different than running lines,” Johnson shared. “As far as that fighting goes, it’s something I really would love to do. I would take it very seriously.”
James Johnson believes he could beat Jon Jones in a fight pic.twitter.com/floGAE4TWo
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) September 17, 2023
This past NBA campaign, Johnson only averaged 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per match in Indiana. It seems he was most comfortable talking about fighting than basketball, as he spoke without hesitation about his favorite UFC star Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, probably one of the best heavyweights in history.
“I’d rock with Jones, obviously. He’s got that dawg in him, Jones Bones. He’s an all-around fighter to me. When you look at some of his technique, it’s so sharp. Just the technique alone will cut you,” the Pacers player expressed.
He then talked about how he would fare if he would ever face Jones in the octagon. “The fighting game is so packed, it’s hard to weed out the best,” he added. “There’s so much content and YouTube content out there, it’s hard to determine unless you see them face-to-face if they really got that fight in them. I would need a year.”
Johnson got excited over the conversation, and went on to anticipate what kind of training he would need to prepare him for a fight against ‘Bones’.
“My standup game is great, but we all know Jones is a collegiate wrestler, really good on the ground, and that’s not my forte. I can get on the ground, I can roll a little bit, rumble a little bit, but to his level – I would definitely need a year to work on counters and defenses against it so we can stand on our feet,” he explained.
Johnson is clear on what are his attributes and which areas he should improve if he was to confront the UFC star
The NBA veteran took the conversation very seriously, almost listing all the details he’d need to prepare for this hypothetical and ambitious encounter in the octagon.
“I like fighting in close. I don’t even like to use the space, I like being close,” Johnson said. “I feel like I generate more power in close than make a wide swing or a long swing, I feel that takes forever. I think I could beat him for real. Like I said, with a year of training defense… I just need ground defense.”
In the video above, take a look at some of Jon Jones’ highlights as a UFC legend. Do you think Johnson could actually beat him?
“He started learning how to use your hands and your feet after college. I’ve been punching and kicking since I was five, six years old. The same thing for me is the opposite thing for him because he’s been wrestling for that long, learning all his wrestling moves and things like that for that long,” the Pacers foward analyzed his chances.