LOS ANGELES -- UFC flyweight Demetrious Johnson had no problem with the concept of The Ultimate Fighter 24 winner getting an immediate title shot.
"I never said that I would never fight the winner," Johnson said Monday.
Rather, it was the way "Mighty Mouse" heard about the TUF 24 plan -- which is currently on hold -- that caused the champ to raise his eyebrows.
The UFC never told Johnson about the plan to build the season around a tournament for a title shot before releasing the information to the public. Johnson ultimately found out about the company's intentions from a fan communicating with him on Twitch.
"It was like someone came to me and said ‘Hey dude, did you know your wife was pregnant and I'm like ‘what the f--- do you mean my wife is pregnant?' said Johnson, who defends his title against Henry Cejudo on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 197 in Las Vegas. "So that's how it came off, I think a lot of people ran with it like, ‘the UFC s--- all over Demetrious Johnson.' The UFC didn't tell me about this, I had no idea."
Johnson believes his initial reaction to the UFC's plan created a perception he didn't want to fight the TUF 24 winner. As far as he's concerned though, they could put anyone from Joseph Benavidez to John Dodson in the TUF house and he'd be willing to fight whoever emerged.
"Joseph has proven time and time again that he's one of the best flyweights in the world," Johnson said. "Throw him in the house with everyone else. Let's see who gets past him. He would probably fight out of the house and earn that title shot, right? I never said that I would never fight the winner. I was basically, one UFC never said anything to me about it, and two, a fan told me about it. ... People took that and made it sound like a fear of me fighting anyone in the house."
As of now, TUF 24 is on hold, as the UFC abruptly canceled an open tryout scheduled for last week, with no reason given. For his part, Johnson says has no interest in a role coaching fellow flyweights on the show.
"Coaching The Ultimate Fighter in my weight class, I couldn't do it," he said. "I'd basically be coaching people to beat me. I'm going to give you my riddle? This is what made my so successful, this is what enabled me to have seven title defenses and why am I going to divulge that information to people? ... I put 10 years into learning the craft of mixed martial arts, I'm not going to give it away to some Joe Schmoe. I wouldn't mind coaching maybe middleweights or whatever. We'll see what happens."
Ultimately, while Johnson was surprised to find out about TUF 24 in the manner that he did, he also says he's not too bothered about it.
"I don't take offense," Johnson said. "I take care of Demetrious Johnson and the UFC takes care of themselves, That's nothing against the UFC, they're a well-oiled machine, they do an amazing job at advertising and making stars. All I can do is make sure Demetrious Johnson does the best he can on fight night and goes out and wins his fights."