Demetrious Johnson knows the questions he's about to face.
The UFC flyweight champion gets them every time he's ready to fight: How come he's not a superstar? Should he be headlining pay-per-view events? Why isn't he an arena draw?
With a rematch against John Dodson set to headline UFC 191 on Sept. 5 in Las Vegas, just 17 days before Johnson's third anniversary as champion, the running themes around his fights tend to center not on the fact most reputable polls place him among the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the game today, but on why his fan following doesn't match his considerable talents.
So, as Johnson explained on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, his new approach is going to involve questioning the questioners.
"I guess what I can say is, what more do you want from me?" Johnson said. "I finished my last four title fights. I knocked out the best man in the world. I submitted a man who had never been finished in his whole entire life. I just don't know what they want. Those are my questions I answer back to analysts, to people out there."
"Mighty Mouse" has a point. The champ has displayed everything fans claim to want out of a mixed martial artist, from a top-notch and varied skill set, to a willingness to face anyone, to a finisher's killer instinct. He's submitted four of his past five opponents. He's won eight straight, is 12-1-1 in his past 14, and in his only loss during that span, he went the distance at 135 pounds with Dominick Cruz, who never lost the bantamweight title in the ring.
One thing Johnson has decided: He's not going to let people troll him about his size anymore. If a segment of the population doesn't want to watch 125 pounders fight, so be it, the champ says.
"Those who are like ‘dude, you're just f------ short, I don't like watching short people fight,' I can't help you there, bro. This is how God made me and I hope you enjoy watching the big men fight."
Johnson has also reached the point he's recycling challengers. While some wanted to see Mighty Mouse take on Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo next, DJ is okay with seeing Dodson again.
Many consider Johnson's unanimous decision win over Dodson in 2013 to be the toughest title defense the champ had in his reign.
"Honestly, I would love to fight Henry Cejudo," Johnson said. "You've got that gold medalist in the Olympics, I would love to test myself against that. I've never beat a gold medalist from the Olympics before. I beat Dodson before, so for me, it's a rematch, and I like my odds in rematches. It's not that I don't think he gets under my skin at all, I just think a lot of people get irritated with him."
That irritation comes in large part from Dodson's ability to run his mouth. Dodson talked a big game before his UFC 187 fight with Zack Makovsky, but didn't exactly set the world afire in a decision win.
Johnson, in fact, is convinced Makovsky won the fight.
"I was there, I saw the fight, its hard to figure what these judges are looking for," Johnson said. "I kind of score fights a little different, I felt [Makovsky's] punches landed more, he was the more efficient fighter, he tried to finish the fight with a heel hook, so he was trying for the finish, it was a tough fight."
The champ went on to say that Dodson's less-than-spectacular performance underscores why he, as champion, doesn't go out and boast before his fights, even if that doesn't help hype the show.
"I guess for me, when someone's talking up all this hype and they were going to do all this and blah, blah, blah, and then they go out there and laid a big egg and they don't deliver, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth," Johnson said.
"That's why I'm the type of fighter, I've I never gone out there and said I'll do this and I'll do that. I go out there and do it, that's they way I go about doing things, so when I see that he said I'm going to go out there and do all this s---, and then he doesn't go out there and do it, I'm like, so what happened out there? That what I thought about it. He had that long layoff, so it's a tough fight for him to talk about."