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Sweet staches becoming trademark for local UFC fighter Johnson

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UFC heavyweight Tim Johnson is scheduled to next fight on Saturday, July 22, in Long Island, N.Y., on the UFC on Fox 25 card. Johnson trains out of Fargo. Eric Peterson / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO—TIm Johnson has gained some fame for his facial hair.

Johnson grows his facial hair out during each training camp, and then fine tunes his look right before a mixed martial arts fight.

"Every fight gets a new mustache or new facial hair," said Johnson, the former Minnesota State Moorhead wrestler who trains out of Fargo. "I don't keep the same one. ... I keep it a secret until the week of the fight."

The No. 12-ranked heavyweight in the UFC, Johnson donned a massive handlebar mustache for his last fight, and earned a split-decision victory against Daniel Omielanczuk last March in London.

"That's how people identify him," said Dylan Spicer, Johnson's coach, who also owns the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo. "The guy with the mustache. He's got to keep the mustache."

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Johnson steps into the cage again next weekend against Junior Albini from Brazil. That heavyweight bout is one of the early prelims for UFC on Fox 25 on Saturday, July 22, in Long Island, N.Y. Chris Weidman and Kelvin Gastelum headline the main card in a middleweight bout.

Johnson vs. Albini can be watched on UFC Fight Pass.

"TIm is an ever-evolving fighter, and right now he's added some tools that I think will surprise a lot of people," Spicer said. "If he can make a statement out of his fight ... that will definitely boost him up in the rankings."

Johnson (11-3, 3-2 UFC) is heading into his sixth fight in the UFC, while Albini (13-2) is making his UFC debut. Johnson said Albini is somewhat of an unknown.

"In that sense, it's a little risky," said Johnson, who is from Lamberton, Minn.

The 32-year-old Johnson is trying to win back-to-back fights UFC fights for the first time in his career. He said he's under contract for one more fight after Albini.

"The hard part isn't getting in the UFC, it's staying in the UFC," said Johnson, who is also a bouncer for around 30 hours per week.

While the Academy of Combat Arts is his home gym, Johnson has made multiple trips to Las Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture to help prepare for this fight.

"His striking is always getting better," Spicer said. "His game is always evolving. That's what you have to do to stay relevant."

Johnson hopes a win can vault him into the UFC top 10 heavyweights or give him a chance to match up against one of the top 10 fighters in the division. He also realizes winning in dramatic fashion doesn't hurt.

"Even if you win, you almost got to win exciting," Johnson said. "It's better to almost lose in exciting fashion than win in a boring fashion. That can be a fine line with the style that I fight."

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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