Following the official news that Demetrious Johnson has indeed, moved from the UFC to ONE Championship, the former flyweight champ has opened up about his decision to change things up.
Recently eyebrows were raised throughout MMA, when it was reported that ONE and the UFC were looking at essentially trading Ben Askren for Johnson. Then, more recently, the deal was finalized and confirmed.
Well, on Sunday ONE held a media call with Johnson on the line, and the renowned fighter discussed why he wanted to leave the UFC for ONE. “Mighty Mouse” relayed he was excited by the prospect to travel more and fight in Asia. In addition, Johnson had this to say about how ONE promotes their bouts, and the culture of fighting he’s going to be part of (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“I’m very, and I say with high praise, I’m very excited that I don’t have to go through that whole thing and (I can) be OK with myself as a true martial artist. And I felt I’ve always done that in my time here in North America,” Johnson said. “And now that everybody does that, it’s in everybody’s DNA in Asia. It’s always about respect and promoting the fight the correct way as a true martial artist: We’re going to go in there and test our skills against each other. I’m very much looking forward to that way of promoting fights than it is in North America. That was something that I just didn’t fit in.
“People told me … there’s nothing worse than when I’m at the gym working out and somebody says, ‘Dude, if you want to sell more tickets and get your name on the (next box of) Frosted Flakes, you’ve got to talk more trash.’ That’s not who I am. I’m not a confrontational person. I do mixed martial arts because it’s something I love, and it helps me express my feelings. I’m an artist when I get to compete. Artists don’t run their mouth and attack people or cause a big scene. They focus and put their energy on what they love to do, which is being a martial artist. What I love to do, which is being a martial artist. So I’m very much looking forward to it.”
So, these comments shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve followed Johnson over the years. Despite the fact he was rolling through most of his opponents, and defended the 125 title a record 11 times, Johnson never became a household name really. One of the arguments for why that is, was because he didn’t fire off insults and warnings like other stars. But, if you’ve watched ONE’s shows, then you know that’s not really how they promote fights.
It will be interesting to see how things unfold in Johnson’s career from here on out. Truly, one of the all-time greats.