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Is it Time for Demetrious Johnson to Step Outside the Flyweight Division?

Posted on by Ryan McKinnell

Demetrious Johnson UFC on Fox 8 Post_9338It was just minutes after UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson earned his second title defense victory, against challenger John Moraga at UFC on Fox 8 at the KeyArena in Seattle, when questions funneled in about potential superfights against fighters in higher weight divisions.

Yes, you read that correctly; despite only having two UFC title defenses to his credit, questions were raised as to whether or not the promotion could muster a worthy adversary for “Mighty Mouse” in the coming months.

“Reporters keep asking me when he can get the respect he is due,” said UFC president Dana White at the UFC on Fox 8 post-fight press conference.  “I think he’s earned the respect he is due. He really proved himself in that last Dodson fight. That’s what really did it for me. He was in deep water and managed to overcome. I think he’s one of the best in the world, man, and tonight he was unbelievable. Tonight he proved it. Tonight he looked amazing.”

When the lingering thought of a potential superfight hung mid-sentence, White proclaimed, “We had the same questions about Anderson Silva and GSP, so I’m sure there’s more to follow.”

Comparing Demetrious Johnson to company legends like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre – at least at this stage of Johnson’s career – is stretching the realm of believability, even for the most ardent MMA fan.

That, however, didn’t stop the champion from giving his two cents; and by ‘cents,’ we’re talking literal dollars, folks.

“Right now, I’m just throwing it out there,” Johnson said with a sly grin after referencing a potential superfight with interim bantamweight champion Renan Barão. “I hear about GSP and all that other stuff, and that’s great, but I think there are great fights to be had in the lighter divisions.”

Great fights that come with much higher paydays.

“I hear about Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, GSP, and all the superfights and how, ‘Oh, they’re gonna make a lot of money!’  So, I’m just throwing out there for the lighter weight guys and see what happens,” said the Washingtonian with a smile plastered across his face.

When White was asked about a potential superfight for Mighty Mouse, he was cordial, but far from over-the-moon with enthusiasm.

“Listen, if Demetrious came out and said that he wants to fight one of the champions at 135 pounds… I don’t know,” he paused.  “I’d have to talk to our matchmakers and see what they think. I don’t hate the idea.”

Johnson elaborated further on a potential, albeit brief, move to 135.

“I’ve beat the best of the best in the flyweight division and there’s still up-and-comers there,” said the victorious Johnson.

“I know there are some key match-ups coming up pretty soon; Louis (Gaudinot) is fighting somebody. There are some other guys that I’d like to fight that I haven’t got to, but whatever the UFC wants me to do.

“I think the focus has been on Anderson Silva and George St-Pierre and other superfights, but I think we can make some fun fights at the lighter weight division. I’m just here to fight and have a good time, and put on a good performance for the UFC and the fans.”

To be fair, superfight talk isn’t entirely unfounded, as yes, this was only Johnson’s second title defense, but prior to tonight’s main event, he had dispatched of Joseph Benavidez, Ian McCall, and John Dodson – effectively beating every single “name” fighter in the newly minted division.

The name of the game, however, is building stars, and keeping a steady flow of progression. Building a division takes time, and risking the selling power of one of your still developing champions against a much bigger opponent probably is not the best business decision.

After all, former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and Johnson met once before inside the cage at UFC Live on Versus in October 2011, and it had menial success in the ratings… to put it nicely.

Simply put, a match with Johnson and any other divisional champion doesn’t sound like a smart business decision to make at this point.  Sure, it would allow for an undoubtedly entertaining scrap, but it certainly won’t be selling out any 50,000-seat arenas anytime soon.

So until then, the smart money is on developing the lighter weight classes into the force it could become and let these introductory champions build their divisional legacies.

(Follow @RyanMcKinnell on Twitter)

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  • Ray Lane

    What a dumb question. The guy has had 5 total fights at Flyweight and 2 title defenses. Why would he leave this division? Could they even have a top ten if he left the division :)

    • christopher

      Nope the divions is 10 months old…… think abou the guy he fought his last fight i belive was fighting on facebook LOL…. C’MON MAN !!!! It s a NEW DIVISION

      • justin

        level of broadcast does not determine quality of fighter. i thought moraga looked great. plus, nobody is talking about dj “leaving the division”.

  • Manuel Lopez

    Too soon, calm down guys let mm be great in his division for a while.

  • Steven Thurman

    he already got tossed around like a ragdoll by Cruz, stfu

    • christopher

      Thast in th past CRUZ knee is shredded we have no idea what type of fighter he will be when he retunrs

  • Timothy Malone

    I dont dislike the flyweights like some people; I enjoy their fights as much as any division. But its true that Demetrious Johnson against anyone is not really a superfight. Heck, Renan Barao vs Dominick Cruz is more of a superfight, and they are in the same division!

  • Denny Swain

    Barao would destroy him. Im glad mighty mouse won though

  • The Best Eva

    NO! Are you people stupid he’s like 3 or 5 fights in.

    • justin

      you forget his record at bw. he was the # 2 guy at 135 already. he doesnt “need” to move up. But id love to see him fight barao.

      • The Best Eva

        Ya but he would lose to a lot of guys at bantamweight just from size alone. You forget that these bantamweights are getting bigger and better.

  • christopher

    Please he wouldnt get tossed around..the guy can easily move up to 135… 145 he would have to take his time and actually put on muscle and not water weight…. just rememeber 1 thing ” ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN A FIGHT, ANY FIGHTER CAN LOOSE ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT ” So all this crap about BARAO, CRUZE would destroy him pssssst….. Cruz is coming back from shredding his knee….. hes no adrian peterson we have no idea what kind of fighter hes gonna be when he returns….. and if anyone on here thinks they know.. your focking nuts and you should be playing Checkers not commenting on grown up who actually train in martial arts… not fans who go out to buy theis and order ppv or go out to watch it plains and simple !!!!!!

    • Hillzy11

      You are an idiot.

  • justin

    He basically proved that e was number 2 or 3 in the world at 135. Id love to see him fight barao. Especially if they are slow to find contenders for either of them. And what i think would make a phenominal out off the box fight would be edgar vs DJ at 135. We all know edgar can make the weight and its a great stylistic fight. but it should be a minimum of 7 rounds. Aside from moving up, the ufc has mentioned plans for a 115 division.Maybe a couple years after they establish the 115 champ, dj could drop down. He is still practically the smallest guy at 125 and could deffinitely make 115. I think the guy is amazing and should be in the top 4 pound for pound in the world.