Minnesota guardsman makes UFC debut – and wins convincingly


A Minnesota National Guardsman and Mixed Martial Arts professional won on his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship Saturday.

Sgt. Tim Johnson, of Lamberton, Minnesota, went up against Russian opponent Shamir Abdurakhimov in the octagon and beat him convincingly, recording a technical knockout at the 4.57 mark of the first round, despite entering the fight as a 2-1 underdog.

It was the 30-year-old's first appearance in the UFC, having built up a 9-1 record fighting in MMA bouts in Fargo since 2010.

"There is no better feeling than fighting and achieving the pinnacle of your sport," he told MMA Junkie. "To make it to the UFC and get a win in the books in my first fight is like a storybook."

His heavyweight debut was part of the preliminary card for UFC Fight Night 63 in Fairfax, Virginia, with the main card being broadcast on FOX Sports 1 Saturday night.

Sergeant's journey to the UFC

The Army Times notes that the 6-foot 3-inches, 265-pound fighter had to make do without the "dozens of fellow soldiers" who usually travel with him from Minnesota to Fargo for his MMA bouts, but were unable to make the trip to Virginia.

The newspaper notes that Sgt. Johnson recently left his full-time truck-driving job to focus on his training, and has 16-months left on his National Guard contract that has so far seen him work convoy security in Kuwait.

He got his start in MMA when working out at the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, telling the newspaper: "I went in there as a practice partner. ... I kind of got hooked, started training a little bit. Before I knew it, I was kind of like, 'Let's give a fight a try, see how I like it.'"

It was a tough time for Sgt. Johnson, with the Moorhead Magazine reporting that with his full-time job, a part-time job as a bouncer, and his military commitments, he would be working up to 60 hours a week, and still have to schedule in two workouts a day.

He had been wrestling since he was 4 years old, but didn't have his first MMA fight until October 2010, which he won, before losing his first and only bout so far in March 2011.

Another thing that helped by his upbringing, saying: "Growing up on a small farm and having that nose-t0-the-ground, get-it-done attitude drilled into me really helps."

He definitely got the job done in the ring Saturday.

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