Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Timothy Johnson Fought In Iraq. Now He Brings The Heat In The MMA Cage
MMA and Army veteran Timothy Johnson is a 6’ 3”, 280-lb. force of pure, unadulterated sweetness. The southern Minnesota native, who has been residing in Fargo, North Dakota, since he went up there to wrestle and play college football 11 years ago, epitomizes the term “Minnesota nice.”
Raised on a farm in Lamberton, Johnson had an unconventional journey into professional fighting. After becoming a two-time wrestling All-American at Division II Minnesota State University-Moorhead, he dropped out of school and worked construction for years before being drawn back into competitive combat. His entry into professional mixed martial arts came right around the time he was deploying to Iraq as a part of the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, known as the Red Bulls.
After his return from Iraq, Johnson picked up where he left off and eventually signed a contract with the UFC in 2014, winning his first fight via TKO in the first round. After amassing a 12-4 record in regional leagues and the UFC, Johnson recently signed a multi-fight with Bellator MMA beginning this summer.
Tim Johnson, MMA fighter and Iraq veteran.Jack Mandaville
Known for his signature fight mustache and large, corn-fed build, his modest nature and soft-spoken Midwestern tone would make you think you’re talking to a kindergarten teacher rather than a man who makes his living punching people in the face.
I sat down with Johnson a few miles away from his home gym, Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, at an eatery fitting to the area: a German sausage restaurant.
Jack Mandaville: You were an All-American wrestler in college. What made you want to go into the Guard?
Timothy Johnson: After my two years in college, I didn’t want to keep going to school. I was working construction and basically drank away my savings, so I said, “Let’s join the Army and see what happens.”
Did you ever have to put an NCO or officer you didn’t like in his place during grappling?
I had more than one NCO I was happy to submit.
Did you ever deploy?
Yes. 2010 to 2011. Or 2012. It’s weird I don’t remember. It was during the pullout of Iraq. Whenever that time frame was.
Is the reason you don’t remember specific dates because you’ve been punched a lot?
Definitely. That’s why I went back to college. I needed to remember my name again.
Did you ever get the chance to wrestle the Iron Sheik over there?
Nope. He wasn’t around by the time I got there. Already a legend in America.
So when did you transition into MMA?
2010, right before I deployed.
And when did you start fighting professionally?
I took my first professional fight 6 weeks after I started training. I got my first two in before I deployed.
You’ve fought a lot of Russians and people from old Soviet bloc countries. Don’t you wish you could just punch a fellow American in the face?
Every day I’m at work.
We don’t always have the nicest clientele that walks through the strip club door.
That’s right, you bounce at a strip club from time to time. Have you ever gotten to Roadhouse someone with your MMA skills?
I’ve worked there for four years. It’s typically a 50/50 when I kick someone out whether they’re going to try something or not.
So do you prefer your wrestling background in dealing with rowdy customers or do you go right into the striking?
Just wrestling. Every security guy knows it’s bad for business if you’re hitting people. Most of the time you don’t need to because you’re just pushing over a drunk guy.
With your wrestling background, you’ve actually been known to get into some big slugfests during your MMA career. Is that by choice or is that how the fights end up?
That’s just how they end up. I don’t try pressuring a fight, I just have to be ready for how it naturally develops.
There are a lot of other fighters who are military veterans. If you could fight anyone from any period, who would it be?
Randy Couture. He’s a former champion and you want to fight the best. And he’s in my weight class.
Who’s a better Minnesotan? You or Brock Lesnar?
That’s easy. Me. I was born and raised here. He’s just an import.
Hey, I’m technically an import too.
Well, you asked.
A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.
Navy senior leaders could decide whether or not to approve the new I-Boot 5 early in 2020, said Rob Carroll, director of the uniform matters office at the Chief of Naval Personnel's office.
"The I-Boot 5 is currently wrapping up its actual wear test, its evaluation," Carroll told Task & Purpose on Monday. "We're hoping that within the first quarter of calendar year 2020 that we'll be able to present leadership with the information that they need to make an informed decision."
Oklahoma Congresspeople slam private housing contractor at Tinker Air Force Base for negligence, fraud
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn leveled harsh criticism last week at the contractor accused of negligence and fraudulent activity while operating private housing at Tinker Air Force Base and other military installations.
Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, referred to Balfour Beatty Communities as "notorious." Horn, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told a company executive she was "incredibly disappointed you have failed to live up to your responsibility for taking care of the people that are living in these houses."
The Saudi national who killed three students on a U.S. Naval Air station in Pensacola was in the United States on a training exchange program.
On Sunday, Sen. Rick Scott said the United States should suspend that program, which brings foreign nationals to America for military training, pending a "full review."
Security measures at U.S. military bases will be increased in the wake of the deadly shootings at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.
In a message posted to Twitter, U.S. Northern Command, known as Northcom, said it has directed its installations to "immediately assess force protection measures and implement increased random security measures for their facilities."