Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is perhaps the greatest MMA fighter of all time, and yet he’s not a star.
He won the inaugural UFC flyweight title in 2012 and has defended the belt 10 times, which means he’s tied for the most consecutive title defenses—while facing the sickest contenders. He’s ranked as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by the UFC and most media outlets, and has turned the flyweight division into a personal torture chamber. Every six months or so, he gets to destroy a would-be contender and approximate perfection in the process.
The problem is that the UFC does not seem to care. Johnson’s bouts have been lightly promoted, especially considering that he’s an all-timer on a historic streak, and the UFC is either too cruel or too dumb to recognize the niche appeal Johnson has with his easygoing personality and ability to connect with fans through his Twitch streaming habit. The UFC has a drastic star deficit, and yet they aren’t even giving Mighty Mouse a shot, even though he is, athletically speaking, quite possibly their best employee.
He’s spoken out about the lack of respect he feels from the UFC before, but he went in on Dana White and the UFC like never before in a lengthy statement provided to MMA Fighting this morning. In his essay, Johnson detailed the recent “mistreatment and bullying” that forced him to speak out and highlights some shady strong-arming from White and crew. Johnson wanted to fight Sergio Pettis next, but the UFC refused to offer him anyone else to fight besides Ray Borg. Johnson insisted on pay-per-view points on any title defense fights going forward, and the UFC apparently refused this demand as well. With no other choice but to fight who the UFC put in front of him, Johnson accepted the Borg fight.
However, Cody Garbrandt’s back injury scuttled the UFC 213 main event title fight he was supposed to have with TJ Dillashaw and dragged Johnson back into the chaos. Garbrandt, the bantamweight champ, had been talking about a flyweight bout with Johnson before, and Mighty Mouse was receptive, given that Garbrandt looks like a brash star in the making who could move PPV units. With Garbrandt sidelined for months, Dillashaw asked for a flyweight title fight with Johnson, who refused because it’s a dumb idea that could only help Dillashaw, who probably couldn’t make weight anyway. When Mighty Mouse refused, White went nuts and threatened to shutter the flyweight division.
First, TJ has never fought at flyweight and is unlikely to make the weight, which would then eliminate the possibility of breaking the title defense record. Second, they have already told me that a fight between Cody and I wouldn’t be sellable, so fighting TJ would have no monetary upside. Third, TJ is not a flyweight or a current champion in another weight class and was KO’ed by the flyweight whom I beat twice already. Last, Ray Borg and I already agreed to the fight, which UFC tyrannically demanded, while denying me any future PPV points.
After telling Dana my reasons, Dana angrily told me that I am fighting TJ, once again, with no other option or say in my career, and against the plans we had previously laid out. He went on further to say that if I didn’t take the fight against TJ, and drop Borg as the opponent, he would get rid of the entire flyweight division. He said, this is for TJ and I’m taking away TJ’s opportunity. That fact that he feels that what I should do in my career is for TJ, tells where his priority lies.
Johnson is, of course, right. Not only are White’s cronies being a cabal of disingenuous jerkoffs by refusing to push Johnson as a star and actually market his fights, but leaning on him when they need him and ignoring him when they don’t is a deeper level of disrespect. Johnson went on The MMA Hour today and said he only found out that he’d supposedly agreed to fight Dillashaw when Ariel Helwani texted him to ask about it. He said White never reached out to him before telling the media that the fight was on. Johnson says he responded and asked for Dillashaw’s appearance money in the event that he didn’t make weight, which the UFC countered by promising to keep Borg on the card just in case Dillashaw didn’t make weight and Johnson needed an opponent.
That’s a low way to treat an all-time champion, and Johnson was furious, telling Helwani this afternoon, “What the fuck is this? Is this amateur hour? This is not how a champion who is about to break the record for most consecutive title defenses deserves to be treated.” When White threatened to close the flyweight division, Mighty Mouse didn’t play ball. He told him to “close the motherfucking division.”
Johnson is an incredible fighter who is always a joy to watch in the Octagon. White is a clown.