SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 07: Johnny Case of the United States celebrates victory over Yan Cabral of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night Belfort v Henderson at Ibirapuera Gymnasium on November 7, 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC
UFC lightweight Johnny Case is all too familiar with gutting through a fight due to injury while still finding a way to win.
Two fights ago, Case suffered a terrible eye poke early in the fight with Francisco Trevino and was forced to go for three rounds while barely seeing anything or seeing triple whenever he tried to focus on his opponent. Case still managed to get a win to stay undefeated in the UFC.
For his most recent fight, Case suffered a broken hand just over a month out from the fight according to his manager but pulling out was never an option. Instead, Case's mindset just shifted to getting around the injury so he could still compete.
"Johnny was about 5 weeks out from his fight in Brazil, called me mad because he broke his hand and had a lot of pain and swelling from it," Ryan Hass from EVO Agents told FOX Sports. "After telling me how it happened, he said, 'don't get it confused, this won't affect my fight at all and I won't be that guy that pulls out. I'm going to fight no matter what and beat this guy with the broken hand all the way to victory'.
"We ended up getting him seen (by a doctor) to confirm the break. He was only worried about the swelling and the pain. He had some time off from training to heal up some, then went back to training at Power MMA under Aaron Simpson and Chaz Turner, and did what he could to finish up camp. Come fight time, he threw his hand at the chin of Yan Cabral like there were no issues and didn't complain at all about it through the rest of his camp other than the day it happened."
Case says the broken hand was never going to be an excuse whether he won or lost but the fact that he was able to travel to Brazil and pick up his fourth win in a row in the UFC was still impressive. Case didn't look at his injury as a detriment but more a challenge that he had to overcome while still finding a way to beat his opponent at every turn.
When the scorecards returned a unanimous decision in his favor, Case knew it was all worth-while.
"Pushing through injuries regardless of what they are is standard stuff to me," Case told FOX Sports. "I'm not one to not come through on something I agreed to, plus I don't want to disappoint anyone like UFC and those that support me. It's not a big deal to me, I'm surprised we're even having a discussion about it.
"Despite injuries, I'm back in the gym this week to help my brother (Allyn Case) and other training partners that all have fights coming up, like Myles Jury, CB Dollaway and others."
Ahead of his latest fight, Case, Jury and several other fighters began training at Power MMA & Fitness, which is the home gym for a slew of UFC competitors including top three ranked light heavyweight Ryan Bader.
The team is led by Aaron Simpson, who is a former UFC fighter as well who is now retired while focusing on coaching the team at Power MMA & Fitness to as many wins as possible. Case says moving to Arizona to begin working with the team was the best decision he's ever made and the success he has from now on in the UFC will be proof of the work he's put in there.
"My life and career changed for the best when I moved to Gilbert, AZ and became a member of Power MMA under Aaron Simpson and Chaz Turner. Those two along with all of the Power MMA coaches invest just as much as I do into my career and I'm making drastic improvements for the best now," Case said. "Things are going great and I couldn't be happier. Power MMA has the best system all under one roof. I wish I had become a member sooner, but at least I'm here now."
With the win over Cabral in Brazil, Case is anxious to get back to work but with a 4-0 record in the UFC, he's fast approaching the time where he'll begin tackling top 15 fights and as much as he'd face anyone with a broken hand and maybe even a broken foot, he also knows that long term success is the goal.
So Case's manager pulled back the reins a bit to allow him time to heal up before they book his next fight in the UFC.
"Johnny is getting treatment for a foot injury and hand injury, and wanting to get a fight ASAP," Hass said. "I mentioned it's best to focus on healing the injuries first, then we'll pick up where we left off. He's so hungry to keep succeeding is great, but we're going to get his health taken care of so he never has to deal with long term issues."
At just 26-years of age, Case is just now entering the prime of his career but he knows the lightweight division is a shark tank and to continue climbing the ranks, he needs to go into all of his fights as healthy as possible.
That doesn't mean he won't be itching for the chance to face someone sooner rather than later because Case just loves to fight that much and nothing makes the pain go away any better than having his hand raised in victory.
"I'm having fun and whooping ass, so I'm just focused on keeping things moving forward and taking out anyone in my way. We'll see what happens," Case said.
"One of my goals with my career has always been being 110% fully passionate, having fun, love it and have that drive to keep moving up. All of those areas are at a maximum and I'm even traveling around the world on UFC's dime. I couldn't be happier and things will only get better."