Turns out, Destiny Johnson won’t be the only one consulted on whether Demetrious Johnson should retire following ONE Fight Night 10.
Fresh from a successful trilogy over Adriano Moraes, Johnson said he plans to consult a few all-time MMA greats about hanging up the gloves for some additional perspective.
“Talking to my peers, talking to Urijah Faber – I’m going to reach out to [Georges St-Pierre], I’m going to reach out to Khabib Nurmagomedov,” Johnson said at the post-fight press conference. “I’m going to talk to these guys. I’m like, ‘Why did you guys stop?’
“Those guys could have kept on fighting, and there comes a point in time – I’m 36 years old, and do I just keep on doing this and giving other athletes the opportunity to beat me and add to their legacy? There’s a lot of stuff I’ve got to muster up.”
Seconds earlier, Johnson strongly indicated he had no intention of doing so despite repeatedly hinting at retirement in the leadup to the trilogy, which headlined ONE’s first U.S. event. The flyweight champ assessed Kairat Akhmetov – who faced off with him in the ONE cage after his win over Moraes – as a threat and said “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“Wow, did he just say he’s not going to retire?” joked ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
“No, no, no, we’ll see,” Johnson said.
“That’s music to my ears, bro,” Sityodtong teased. “I’m like, ‘Oh, DJ’s back, alright.”
Johnson got a rousing applause when he asked the crowd at 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo., if they wanted to see him back in the cage. Then he pulled the rug out from under that idea by saying he first had to speak to his wife.
Retirement isn’t an unreasonable idea for a fighter widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time. Johnson holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history and has beaten a who’s who of talent at 125 pounds. His ONE Championship run is the latest argument in support of his consideration as a pound-for-pound GOAT.
But for “Mighty Mouse,” there are more than a few reasons he would consider fighting on, and they have a lot to do with how he is feeling. When he suggested retirement was an option after the latest ONE event, he wasn’t feeling so hot about his future.
“The reason why I have these feelings, week four and week five was probably the hardest time in all my training camp,” Johnson said. “Like, back in the day when I would fight my world title fights, I remember when I was going to fight Wilson Reis, I would have nightmares that Wilson Reis would get my back. ... I didn’t have nightmares when I was getting ready to fight Adriano. I was having nightmares about what am I do after I’m done fighting. And so I like to listen to my feelings and try to understand like, ‘OK, why am I having nightmares about what am I gonna do after fighting when I have an opponent to train for?’
“So that’s where all these feelings harbor from. And I was like, ‘This might be my last fight,’ and just take a step back as an athlete, and look at what am I gonna do after fighting. Because I keep on, I mean, I can keep on fighting. I mean, that’s true, but it takes a lot of energy away from other projects that can take care of me after I’m done fighting. So that’s where that comes from.”
But in any event, Johnson still plans on getting the input of his most important allies: his family.