(Johnson’s booking photo, via mugshots.com)
Just two days after announcing that Michael Johnson would face Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night 61, the UFC has revealed that his long layoff in 2014 was due to an April arrest for domestic battery, not an injury. Here’s the official statement posted last night on UFC.com:
UFC lightweight Michael Johnson was ineligible to compete in the UFC organization following his arrest regarding a domestic dispute in Palm Beach County, Florida in April 2014. Given that the allegations against Johnson constituted a potential violation of the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy, the UFC organization temporarily barred Johnson from competition pending the completion of a third-party investigation. Following a thorough review and investigation—including personal interviews with Johnson and independent confirmation that he has satisfied all obligations required by the UFC—Johnson is once again eligible to compete and will begin training for his next fight at UFC Fight Night: Evans vs. Teixeira in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The UFC will continue to monitor Johnson’s status. He must fully comply with the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and all other contractual and additional obligations in order to continue competing in the UFC.
All UFC athletes are required to comply with the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy they signed along with their fight contract. The UFC organization will not tolerate any violation of its Fighter Conduct Policy. The organization is committed to thoroughly investigating all allegations and taking the appropriate action when warranted.
Johnson was booked in Palm Beach County, Florida, at 2:30 a.m. on April 9th on a charge of “battery – touch or strike.” Johnson reportedly has other domestic violence charges pending, and already has a court date scheduled for February 25th — three days after his scheduled fight with Barboza in Brazil — for driving on a revoked license.
A few thoughts…
- The timeline of this whole thing is bizarre. Johnson gets arrested in April, the UFC books him for a fight against Josh Thomson in May, then the UFC announces he’s “injured” in July…but doesn’t reveal the truth about his arrest until late December, two days after announcing his next fight? Maybe the UFC figured it had enough domestic-violence-related publicity for the year, between Thiago Silva, Anthony Johnson, and the horrific headlines produced by ex-UFC fighters War Machine and Josh Grispi.
- I wonder how often “undisclosed injury” really means “embarrassing arrest that we’d rather not publicize”?
- The UFC claims to have a “zero tolerance policy” on domestic violence…except Michael Johnson and Anthony Johnson were welcomed back to the UFC following “third-party investigations.” Meanwhile, Jason High’s lifetime ban for shoving a referee has remained in effect. Cool priorities, bro.