Demetrious Johnson isn’t a big fan of what’s happening in the UFC’s flyweight division at the moment.
The former 12-time UFC flyweight champion, who now competes for ONE Championship, recently won in a special mixed-rules bouts against Rodtang Jitmuangnon at ONE X, submitting the acclaimed Muay Thai fighter in the second round. The win was Johnson’s first since a knockout loss to Adriano Moraes last year, and despite the fact that it wasn’t an MMA contest, many believed it could set up for another crack at Moraes’ flyweight title.
“Mighty Mouse” is shooting down that idea.
“No, I don’t believe so,” Johnson said on The MMA Hour. “I think I’m gonna be fighting a couple more before earning that title shot again. ... The last fight when I fought him, I felt like if I was more patient, then I wouldn’t have gotten caught by that uppercut and ate that knee, but if I was to play the long-distance game, like Yuya Wakamatsu did, I probably would’ve gotten yellow-carded and lost 10 percent of my pay because I wasn’t gonna commit. So it’s a hard fight to approach, and I want to make sure the next time I do get that opportunity, it will probably be my last opportunity, I want to make sure I’m fully prepared for that fight.
“Instead of all these guys like, ‘I want the next title shot, I’m ready for it!’ and your ass ends up losing and the next thing you know, now it’s like, now you aren’t getting another title shot. You should’ve did two more.”
Johnson specifically cited his frustration with the UFC’s current flyweight title picture, where the UFC is targeting a fourth fight between champion Deiveson Figueiredo and one-time champion Brandon Moreno.
“It’s like the Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno, why do a fourth fight? Why?,” Johnson said. “Fight [Alexandre] Pantoja. Let Pantoja fight. Let Kai Kara-France fight. Fight somebody totally different. Go out there, get your mojo back if you feel like you need it, and get a fresh look in front of you.
“Everybody’s always trying to chase this title. Don’t chase the title, the title will come if you are worthy for it, if your path leads you to that. Don’t just try to run down the road and run into the same f***** roadblock. Fight somebody else, and maybe you’ll find something else in the other fights you go against, and when you approach that roadblock you’ll go, ‘Ah, I know how to do this this time. It’s not the same thing I’ve been looking at for the past 2-3 years.’ Do something different. But that’s just me.”
While the UFC appears to want its first-ever tetralogy, the fight is not yet guaranteed. Figueiredo recently said he wanted Moreno to have to earn a fourth fight with him and that he’d instead like to face Kara-France — who is coming off a win over Askar Askarov. And according to Johnson, that is exactly what Moreno should want too.
“Yes, it makes a lot of money sense for the UFC, and maybe the athletes too, but if you go and fight him — I know how the UFC contracts are structured,” Johnson said. “Whether Brandon Moreno fights Figueiredo or Kai Kara-France, I’m sure he’s going to get the same pay. Them boys ain’t getting pay-per-view points. They never gave flyweights pay-per-view points, so don’t act like you guys are getting 800,000 pay-per-view buys.
“So you’re better off fighting Kai Kara-France or Pantoja, and then if you get that, boom, you get your show and your win [purses], so you probably made $250,000. Then you might be on an escalator, so you fight another one and there’s another $250,000, so you just made $500K, and now you fight for a world title and you get your $30K [Venum] sponsorship, and now you’ve got two fights on your contract and you’re like, ‘You know what, I don’t want to re-sign. I want to fight this one out. I believe in myself.’ Then let’s say you win the belt, next thing you know, you’re in a great position. So it’s better to fight, just to fight to make your money — because at the end of the day that’s what we do, fight to make money — then go for the [title].”
Few, if any, know more about competing for titles than Johnson. The 12-time UFC flyweight champion is one of the most accomplished fighters in MMA history, having held the flyweight title for six years. His overall career record stands at 30-4-1.