At a time when bouts between champions are being made, and fighters are chasing titles in more than one division, Demetrious Johnson is just fine staying in his lane: extending his historic run as the UFC’s flyweight champ.
It’s not known yet when or who Johnson will fight next, but the expectation is that he’ll take on bantamweight champ, TJ Dillashaw, sometime this summer. Dillashaw has been calling for a bout with the storied fighter for a while. At first, Johnson argued Dillashaw needed to defeat a top flyweight first, before challenging for the 125 title. But, more recently, Johnson has said he’s down for the all-star bout (provided it’s on a big card).
“So if [Dillashaw] wants to make the weight cut, be the Champ-Champ, all that old jazz… I don’t care about being Champ-Champ. I’d rather be the only, 12-time consecutive defending champion in any mixed martial arts promotion. You look at ONE FC, they’ve got double Champ-Champs.”
“There’s multiple Champ-Champs out in the world. Don’t be surprised if Bellator has a Champ-Champ [soon]… The Champ-Champ is old news nowadays. But you know what’s brand new news? 11-time defending champion. That’s brand-f**king-new news.”
Sure, since there’s only been four fighters in UFC history to win titles in more than one division, you could certainly make the case that doing so is still a pretty, pretty, significant achievement. If Daniel Cormier goes on to defeat Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 for example, and wins the heavyweight title, it will be a massive addition to the 205 champ’s legacy.
But…Johnson makes a very solid point: there’s only one fighter, ever, in UFC history to defend a title 11 times, and that’s him. Even if his run as the flyweight champ comes to an end against Dillashaw, how long will Johnson hold that record?
What’s unfortunate is that casual fans and the mainstream world aren’t handing Johnson the fame he’s due.