On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson told Ariel Helwani that though plans for a proposed superfight with T.J. Dillashaw have seemingly stalled. the pound-for-pound king is still interested in making that fight happen, just not at 135 pounds.
“I’m going to be frank and honest,” Johnson said, “If I went up there and beat T.J. Dillashaw at 135 pounds, I have no interest whatsoever in staying at 135.”
For some fans, that’s disappointing news. Johnson is the only champion the UFC’s 125-pound division has ever known and he recently broke the title defense record with a Submission of the Forever candidate flying-suplex-armbar of Ray Borg. He’s accomplished everything possible to accomplish at flyweight and many have been hoping to see “Mighty Mouse” move up to test himself against the likes of the bantamweight champion, including former UFC middleweight title holder, Michael Bisping.
On the most recent edition of his Believe You Me podcast, Bisping discussed the Johnson-Dillashaw superfight, calling the failure to make it happen “frustrating” because though Demetrious Johnson is the best fighter on the planet, Bisping would like to see him fight some real competition.
“That is kind of frustrating because Demetrious Johnson, I’m telling you, he probably is the pound-for-pound best,” said Bisping. “When you look at the way he performs, you think, ‘Yeah, he’s pound-for-pound the best,’ but then you look at his opponents and it’s like, I can look fantastic if I’m fighting my daughter. I can do crazy s**t. I can pick her up and suplex her and put her in an armbar. I could pull off the sickest submissions if I was doing it against a 12-year-old girl.
“I’m not saying that Demetrious’ former opponents are like that of a 12-year-old girl - maybe 15. You see the point I’m making. Some of the competition has been very, very good but that’s always been the classic, cliche, knock on his career, that the competition hasn’t been as good. Then we hear about T.J. vs. DJ and it’s like, ‘Wow, here’s an opportunity where Demetrious Johnson can prove that he can beat somebody like T.J. Dillashaw.’”
These criticisms are nothing new to Johnson’s career. The flyweight champion has consistently been critiqued for facing fighters perceived to be of lower caliber than other challenges he could be pursuing, most notably last summer when Johnson favored a title defense against Ray Borg instead of Dillashaw. Though Johnson has multiple wins over division staples like John Dodson, Joesph Benavidez, and Henry Cejudo, his record-setting title reign is also dotted with less notable names like Chris Cariaso and John Moraga. That, Bisping says, is a real problem for Mighty Mouse’s ability to appeal to the public at large.
“Obviously I was only having a bit of fun,” said Bisping. “You’ve got to give DJ his credit. He’s incredible. He’s always looking for the finish. He’s exciting, he really is. But the competition, unless you were a hardcore MMA fan, you wouldn’t know who the hell they were if you walked past them. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t recognize some of those guys and I live and breathe mixed martial arts. If some of those guys walked past me in the street, I wouldn’t know. . .
“You need fantastic opponents. You need opponents that bring out the best in you. You need opponents that can give you a run for your money. And some of those people have given him a really good run for his money but some of them he’s completely wiped out.”
Johnson has “wiped out” most of them. Since winning the title in a close split decision over Benavidez and then surviving a brief scare against Dodson, Johnson hasn’t had a particularly close fight in five years, including dominant rematch wins over both of those men.
But despite his dominance and, frankly, his highly entertaining style of fighting, there has been one other major black mark on the career of Mighty Mouse, his star power. Johnson has never quite managed to become “must-see viewing” for casual MMA fans and Bisping suggests that, more than any other benefit, the Dillashaw superfight is the bout that could get him over the hump.
“Another knock has been that he hasn’t been a proven draw,” said Bisping. “He hasn’t sold big pay-per-views. I don’t think that’s Demetrious’ fault. I think that’s just the trend that we see in combat sports. Super light weight classes like that have always had a hard time drawing at the box office. But him against T.J., that’s an interesting fight. That’s a fight that gets people to sit up, take notice, give him respect, and essentially, earn them both a lot of money.”
135. Demetrious Johnson still interested in T.J. Dillashaw superfight, but not the UFC bantamweight title.
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What an insane KO.
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Just stop it.
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
I believe @NotoriousNewell deserves a shot. This sport hurts and it is unforgiving, much like some mma fans and critics. He will get hurt and lose like the the rest of us, it will not be because he is lacking in skill or suffering from a disability but because we are #Gladiators— Justin Gaethje (@Justin_Gaethje) March 14, 2018
This is insane.
Nice touch for Sholler, who works with the Sixers now.
Make this fight happen.
Picking a fight.
Ya’ll still trying to ruin people’s careers over weed eh? In 2018? That’s crazy.— Andre Fili (@TouchyFili) March 15, 2018
Motherfuckers let James Toney fight in the UFC but are worried about Nick Newell.— JustBleedMMA (@JustBleedMMA) March 15, 2018
Amo calar os críticos e pra vocês vou deixar o meu recado mais uma vez dia 25 de Maio! @BellatorMMA— Rafael Carvalho (@RafaCarvalhoMMA) March 14, 2018
I love to silence the critics and for you I will leave my message again May 25th! #Bellator200 pic.twitter.com/5yIIAmJgya
Day 12 of May, UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro— John Lineker (@johnlineker) March 14, 2018
John Hand Of Stone Lineer X Brian Kelleher
Make my feet as agile as the hinds, stand firm on high.
"He trains my hands for battle and my arms to buck a brass bow."
(Psalm 18: 33,34) pic.twitter.com/F3GoPdyDms
We’re participating in the #ALSPepperChallenge. Now we challenge @dc_mma, @TeamKhabib, @akajav, @extendyourimage, @alaracellars and Mrs. B to join in this great cause. @ALSTDI pic.twitter.com/y18PwRHjbe— Cain Velasquez (@cainmma) March 15, 2018
Aaron Chalmers (3-0) vs. Ashley Griffiths (4-6); Bellator 200, May 25.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
1998: Pride FC held its second event, Pride 2, featuring one of the worst fights of all time, Renzo Gracie vs. Sanae Kikuta.
2014: Johny Hendricks defeated Robbie Lawler to win the vacant UFC welterweight title at UFC 171.
DJ has beaten Benavidez (twice), Dodson (twice), McCall, Horiguchi, Ali Bags, and Henry Cejudo. That resume alone is impressive as hell.. If DJ didn’t exist we’d be talking about how boring it is that JoeB beats everyone. Flyweight isn’t that bad of a division, DJ is just that good.
Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
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