[Updated after speaking to Johnson, Sunday, Nov. 25 at 5 p.m.]
It’s another W for Tristan Johnson.
The Jordantown mixed martial arts fighter won a split decision Friday, Nov. 23 in his rematch against Will Romero.
The caged slugfest Hamilton looked a lot more like a boxing match with both strikers thinking they had the science to go the distance standing up.
Johnson says Romero’s trash talking before the fight was the reason behind the striking duel.
“He was calling me out and I had enough of his attitude,” says Johnson. “I knew I could beat him where he’s supposedly the best.”
Johnson, 5’11” and weighing 145.8 pounds for the fight, outgunned Romero, 5’9”, 145 pounds, through the first round.
Johnson took full advantage of his extra reach to drive Romero around the ring and land his right relentlessly.
Johnson’s dominance of the first round included a knock down.
Things went off the rails for Johnson early in the second when Romero poked him the eye with his thumb.
“After that I couldn’t see out of that eye,” says Johnson. “I couldn’t do the head movement, I was seeing two of him.”
Johnson’s right eye swelled shut on him towards the end of the second, enabling Romero more access to that side of Johnson’s face.
But Romero may have stuck to that game plan a little too long.
Johnson came back out swinging in the third, and reestablished control of the fight. With Romero on his heels, Johnson was able to take the Ontario fighter to the mat just before the bell.
“I knew he wouldn’t be expecting it,” says Johnson. “I just had to pick the right moment to shoot. I couldn’t see and I didn’t want to make the wrong decision.”
In the end, a split decision for Johnson (30-27, 30-27, 28-29) –a closer result than Johnson’s unanimous decision over Romero last June.
“I don’t understand what that one judge as looking at,” says Johnson. “I know I did enough to win every round. Even the second, he landed more jabs but I landed more clean power punches.”
The two featherweights were boxing at the Hamilton Place arena in Hamilton Ontario, Romero’s hometown.
Johnson was booed when he walked into the arena—he told the fans after the fight, “You may not like me, but I love coming here. This is why they Score series brings me down here, cause I always come to fight.”
The ring announcer asked Johnson about his battered face but Johnson brushed that aside.
“I don’t care what my face looks like right now, I’m on top of the world.”
Johnson’s record is now 8-3 with two knockouts and one technical knockout.
Johnson is confident The Score will give him a fight in March and he hopes it’s another rematch—this time against Rick Glenn.
Glenn, 12-2-1, hasn’t lost in over two years and beat Johnson by TKO in August.
“Last time I was coming off a ten-month lay off,” says Johnson. “Now I’ve had a big fight against a fellow top-ten fighter, I didn’t take a step back, I took a hard fight and I won it. I’ve earned a rematch.”
Johnson plans to stay active this winter and is looking for a professional boxing match or a muay thai match.
“That fight with Romero was almost a muay thai match,” he says. “Except muay thai has no ground game at all – just striking with the eight points of fists, elbows, knees and feet.”