Standing just 5’3″ tall, Demetrious Johnson is one of the shortest fighters in the UFC’s smallest weight class, bantamweight (135 pounds), and a top candidate to drop to 125-pounds when the UFC adds a flyweight division.
But that hasn’t stopped “Mighty Mouse” from nearly reaching the pinnacle of all professional fighters’ dreams: a world championship. Johnson will get that chance this Saturday at UFC on Versus 6, as he takes on the current bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, in the main event.
Johnson joined the WEC in April of last year, losing his debut against Brad Pickett, but has since won four in a row, including his most recent win over former WEC champion Miguel Torres at UFC 130.
Johnson recenty spoke with MMAFrenzy.com regarding the opportunity in front of him, as well as the recovery from his last fight.
In Dominick Cruz, Johnson takes on an opponent who, like him, has only lost once during his career. While he will bring a height advantage, Cruz’ arms are only two inches longer in reach compared to Johnson. Plus, Johnson is one of the few guys that can compete with Cruz athletically.
“Dominick is a great champion,” said Johnson. “He’s always been well prepared for five rounds, but so am I. He is a cardio machine, so I know I have to have better cardio than him.”
That preparation is evident with Cruz’ last three fights all going the distance in five round bouts. In fact, only one of Cruz’ last eight fights have ended prior to the third round.
In Johnson’s most recent match with Miguel Torres, Johnson won a close unanimous decision. Johnson feels that prepared him for the taller Cruz, as Miguel is even taller than Cruz at 5’9″, while Cruz is 5’8″.
In that fight, Johnson broke his fibia in the second round. This hampered Johnson’s training, but did not hamper his spirits or his chances at the title.
“Breaking my fibia was tough,” said Johnson. “I love staying busy. I’m young and I heal well. Being on crutches for six weeks was boring, but I started training full time as soon I was cleared.”
Even with his ascent to the top of the bantamweight division, rumors have continually gone around regarding a drop to 125 pounds once the flyweight division is introduced to the UFC.
Johnson is only focused on what is happening now, stating “I’m not too sure what I will do. I am focused on Dominick right now, and winning would keep me at 135 pounds. I would want to keep the belt for as long as I can.”
This fight with Cruz will be Johnson’s first fight on the East Coast, and more importantly, will be the first championship fight on free television since UFC 75, which saw Rampage Jackson defeat Dan Henderson.
Johnson does not care whether the fight is a main event on pay-per-view or on free television.
“It doesn’t bother me. The same results will happen if I win. I leave with the belt no matter what.”