Laying The Foundation will be an ongoing project as I talk to and check in with the men who built the sport of MMA through blood, sweat and tears. My first subject is Brian “Fury” Johnston.
Dawning American flag shorts, cauliflower ears and a killer physique Brian was an early UFC pioneer. Although his MMA career only lasted one year, it was a wild one. Between July of 1996 and July of 1997 Brian fought eleven times, including six trips to the world famous octagon. Who did he fight? The best of the best including UFC Hall Of Fame fighters Don Frye, Ken Shamrock and Mark Coleman.
“Coleman, Shamrock and Frye are legends. I am happy to be one of only a handful of guys that were more than happy to fight them. Don just got put in the hall of fame. I thought he was one of the early inductees. How could Don Frye not be? WTF? So I called him, as usual he did not return my call. Then it dawned on me, it was his moustache that probably got the hall of fame nod years ago.”
What would Brian’s career highlight be?
“It was a very short career, but I have got to say the Reza Nasri fight. It is the one people Identify me with. The UFC also outlawed head butts after that fight. So I’m part of the evolution.”
As far as Johnston’s legacy goes:
“I’m just one guy out of many, that went out to head butt or be head butted and let the teeth lay where they fell.”
So how did Brian get into the fight business? For Johnston MMA was a natural fit:
“I had gone to jail for a fight that I was not even in (that time). After that I decided if I am going fight, I am going to get paid for it. When I saw the UFC I thought “this makes sense”. I was a wrestler all my life, I played Judo was kickboxing and had just won the Northern California Golden Gloves”
Is he still involved in MMA today?
“I trained pro fighters in Japan years ago, but today I have found it hard to find athletes with real commitment. My neighbour is a MMA fighter, my UPS guy too. The girl from the cardio kickboxing class fights as well. I’m not going to waste my time. I would like to share a little bit with Ryan Bader though, he has great potential but clearly has not been taught how to utilise that potential yet. He needs to capitalise on his talents and fight his fight, not the other guys fight.”
What does he think of today’s MMA?
“I watch MMA, it is evolving. It has nothing however to do with arts, it is martial yes but it stops there. Never have I seen so many classless disrespectful asses gathered together, but these asses are getting bigger pay days. There are some great fighters, but I do not have a favourite. I’m a grumpy old man now, I’m hard to watch a fight with. I’m more of a critic than a fan.”
So what is Brian’s passion these days, it may surprise you. The man known as “Fury” however does train one very special fighter, his daughter Kayia:
“My daughter is the 5-7 year old Arizona state girls Judo champ and we have been doing a little submission wrestling. She loves it…some girls play with Barbies and some girls heel hook”.
Check back soon for Part two, as I continue to explore and check in with the forefathers of MMA.
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