No athlete can stay on top forever. Every fighter eventually loses. And UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has no delusions that he’s any different. He knows he’s one punch, kick or submission away from losing his belt and falling in the rankings.
In fact, Johnson doesn’t pay much attention to rankings, although he sits atop the 125-pound division and is in the top five of the pound-for-pound rankings.
“I have no control over (the rankings). The only thing I have control over is the way I train and the way I perform in the Octagon. I’m more conscious about that. Pound-for-pound rankings, it just shows it’s really hard to go undefeated in this sport when you’re at the top of the level,” the champion told The Great MMA Debate Podcast. “So for me, pound-for-pound is awesome. I’m very happy that everybody sees me as No. 3 or 4, but at the end of the day I can get knocked off that list like anybody else.
“I think mixed martial arts is just like wrestling. You’re going to compete with the best in the world. You’re going to compete with a lot of different people and you can get beat on any given night,” added Johnson. “You can lose on any give night. I know when I fight at UFC 174, I know I can lose that belt. I know that can happen.”
Knowing that a loss is always looming in the shadows is what keeps Johnson humbled. It’s what keeps him grounded.
“That’s where my humbleness comes from. Yeah, I’m the best in the world and all that stuff. But all it takes is one punch and your whole life could change. I’m aware of that,” said Johnson. “I’m not going to be naïve and live in a fantasy world. I’m the best fighter in the world until somebody beats me and then they’re the best fighter in the world and all the limelight is on them.”
Johnson puts his title on the line for the fourth time at UFC 174 on Saturday against Ali Bagautinov who is riding a ten-fight winning streak. It’s the first time the flyweight division has been featured in a main event on pay-per-view, but for Johnson it’s just another fight.
“At the end of the day, it’s just another fight. It’s going to be on pay-per-view. I’m still training whether it’s going to be on FOX or FOX Sports 1. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s just another fight. But it’s awesome for the flyweights to get to headline their first pay-per-view and hopefully it does well.”