Demetrious Johnson is happy to be the GOAT on the list of a fast-rising superstar who could take that spot in the coming years.
Johnson, a former, longtime UFC flyweight champion and current ONE Championship flyweight grand prix champion, hasn’t been able to compete in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Once Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 and announced his retirement, the greatest of all-time debates began to surface once again.
“If we want to talk about ‘Ultimate GOAT,’ did everyone just forget about Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson?” Adesanya asked. “Just the perfect fighter, or near perfect.”
The current record holder for consecutive UFC title defenses was honored to get such high praise from Adesanya and shared some of his own towards the 185-pound champ.
“I think it’s awesome,” Johnson told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “I have nothing but respect for Izzy and I told him after what he did to Paulo, ‘If you keep putting on performances like that, you’re gonna be well on your way.’
“The way he dismantled him, it’s very rare that a fighter will do something in a fight that will make me think about certain things and what he did to Paulo, I was like, ‘Duh, simple. Footwork. That’s the easy way to nullify Paulo Costa’s striking.’ What he did to Uriah Hall, Yoel Romero, he couldn’t do it to Adesanya because he used footwork.”
While Johnson has to be mentioned on most lists when it comes to the sport’s all-time greats, he believes that if Adesanya continues on the road he’s currently traveling, it won’t be long before “The Last Stylebender” joins him—especially after his recent second-round finish of Costa at UFC 253 in September.
“I was like, ‘Good for you, Izzy. You impress me all the time,’” Johnson said. “After he knocked out Paulo I was like, ‘Yup, he’s on his way.’
“If he keeps doing that, and then goes up to light heavyweight, then if he goes up to heavyweight to fight Jon Jones, those are all the steps. I feel that he’s gonna be in the sport for a long time, a champion for a long time as long as he keeps on evolving. I feel like he has the mindset to do that because he watches anime. Anime always keeps your mind fresh and keeps you evolving.”