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Darrius Flowers thought he and opponent Michael Johnson were cool, and then: ‘It’s, ‘F*ck you’ now’

Darrius Flowers’ UFC debut was nothing like how he wanted it to be. Now he has some redemption on the mind.

Flowers won his way into the UFC with a 73-second slam TKO win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2022. He didn’t make his UFC debut until nearly a year later, though, and when he did, he found out the hard way about fighting at elevation.

At UFC 291 in Salt Lake City, Flowers said he went through altitude sickness that adversely affected him and contributed to his second-round submission loss to Jake Matthews. Of course, it didn’t help matters that he was itching to get in the cage, so moved up from his natural lightweight home to welterweight for the shot against Matthews.

“Obviously, I didn’t win, but I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed or it didn’t go how I would have liked it,” Flowers said at Wednesday’s media day for UFC Fight Night 236. “The fight was still a good fight. The worst part about that fight was the elevation, but I’ve learned from that. I moved to Vegas in October so I won’t have to deal with the altitude sickness that I went through for a week.”

That may be an indicator of the level of seriousness Flowers (12-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is ready to apply to his fighting career ahead of his bout against longtime UFC lightweight Michael Johnson (21-19 MMA, 13-15 UFC). They meet on the UFC Fight Night 236 (ESPN+) main card Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas altitude is only about half that of Salt Lake City, but it certainly is better than no altitude at all for conditioning fighter lungs.

“I’m going to be 30. I’m starting to run into realities now, that I can’t keep doing the same thing I was doing at 22 (now that I’m) 29? Now I’m getting older and realizing that sh*t is real out here. The biggest change (from the move) is just consistency. … Now I’m consistent and I don’t get tired. I can go 50 rounds. I’m very content with the move.”

But if things get a little bizarre at his face-off with Johnson on Friday, don’t be surprised. Flowers said the two had been cordial for years – to the point of even having MMA business-related reasons to hit each other up. But after Flowers signed to fight him, he said Johnson quickly blocked him.

And that’s fine with Flowers, but don’t expect him to be giving out any lowercase flowers to an opponent who throws up the ol’ social media block.

“I know Michael Johnson. We’ve hung out,” Flowers said. “… He’s called my phone numerous times, just for fight business because I was promoting shows and vice versa. And I’ll call his phone to see, ‘Hey, do you have anybody you know?’ We just kept in contact over the years. I even asked him to f*cking say, like five-six years ago, ‘Yo, could you say something to (Sean) Shelby for me?’ He’s like, ‘Bro, I’ve got you. I see Shelby.’ And then he goes and blocks me. We were cool. We had no problems. I looked up to the guy – been talking to him since like beginning of my pro career. Everything was fine. Then I f*cking went to his page …”

Flowers implied the optics, career-wise, might make it seem like Johnson should have reason to take some liberties. But whatever the reason for Johnson’s block, Flowers said some things can’t be undone.

“He’s making his 28th (UFC) walk. I’m making my second. I would think he would have a better relationship than somebody else,” Flowers said. “We didn’t have a real relationship. We were just cordial and knew each other and respectful. … It’s just business for me. I’m not trying to bring the drama into it. I’m just telling it like it is. He’s a cool guy. He just blocked me for no reason. It’s weird.

“You don’t go back from there. It’s not like after the fight, you’re going to unblock me and we’re cool again. No, we’re not cool anymore, bro. It’s, ‘F*ck you’ now, at the end of the day.”

Check out Flowers’ full media day interview in the video above.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 236.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie