Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (10-1) is a small guy headed to the big stage. On that stage, he’ll meet a fighter with reflexes like that of a cat in UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
The two are slotted to meet in the main event at UFC on Versus 6 in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 1. The challenger is excited to get the chance to, in his view, be the first to “beat” Cruz in a fight.
Cruz has never been beaten? Wait, what?
“We have similar styles,” Johnson told MMAWeekly Radio Weekend Edition. “He’s a great champion, he’s one of the best in the weight class, and I think he has a lot more puzzles to figure. Nobody’s beat Dominick. The only person ever to beat Dominick Cruz is Urijah Faber and I think he beat him because he caught him in a scramble.”
Faber defeated Cruz at WEC 26 in March of 2007 when the two fought at featherweight for the division’s belt. A guillotine choke in the first round put a halt to Cruz’s climb and marked the first blemish on his otherwise spotless record.
Cruz recently got his payback and defeated Faber in an entertaining five-round fight at UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber. This time the two were 10 pounds lighter and fought at bantamweight. And unlike the first time where he was the champion defending his crown, Faber was challenging for the title.
Officially, Cruz has defeated every man that has ever stood in front of him with a pair of four-ounce gloves on, using a unique style that no one has really been able to figure out.
Johnson, however, is one of the quickest fighters in the UFC, if not the world. Arguably, his speed hasn’t been matched by any of the opponents he’s faced in his 11-fight career. This might just be the solution to the puzzling style that Dominick Cruz has made famous.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Johnson’s “Mighty Mouse” speed is enough to match the cat-like speed of the UFC bantamweight champion.
“I think it’s a puzzle that I want to try and solve,” Johnson said of Cruz’s fighting style. “He’s a great guy and I just want to get in and mix it up with him. He totally fights different from all the other fighters that I fought. Everybody fights kind of similar, but me and him fight totally different than everybody else.
“We use a lot of movement to cause opponents to miss and we use a lot of combinations and transitions from, like, the hands to the feet to the ground to the wrestling and to the submission game. So I just think it’s going to be a great fight for the fans and for the UFC and for the (bantamweight division).”
Now that Johnson is officially next in line to face Cruz, he doesn’t have to worry about any other challengers stepping in front of him and taking his place for a shot at the bantamweight strap. But prior to Johnson being given the nod and shortly after UFC 132, talks of Faber getting an immediate rematch echoed through the MMA blogosphere and forums. Obviously, a third fight between Cruz and Faber has an enticing story to it. After all, Faber got the first win, then Cruz took the second fight, and the tension between the two fighters makes for an interesting rivalry.
With a history like that, Faber might be deserving of a rubber match with the champion. But fighters like Demetrious Johnson feel they deserve it just as much, if not more.
“Do I think he deserves another rematch? Yeah, but why not give somebody else a title shot,” he said. “If Urijah loses again, what do you do with him? I believe if you get a title shot, you should not get an automatic rematch. I think that’s kind of bogus. (There are) guys in line who are coming up. You got Renan Barao who’s on a three-fight winning streak and he’s pretty good. You also got Michael McDonald. You got Brad Pickett coming up.”
With the days of splitting his time between a full-time job and fighting behind him, Johnson admits that he’s still just as nervous as he was earlier in his career. But with as nervous as he is, the level of excitement he senses heading into his first title fight is even greater.
On Oct. 1 at UFC on Versus 6, “Mighty Mouse” will be giving chase, not for cheese, but for gold.
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