Johnson thought he was going to be fighting Ray Borg, but when a bantamweight title fight between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw fell apart things changed. Plans shifted to Dillashaw dropping down to flyweight for an immediate title shot.
Though Dillashaw and White loved the idea, Johnson pushed back hard, saying he didn’t think Dillashaw should be allowed to jump the line. When White basically said it didn’t matter what Johnson wanted, that he books the fights, the flyweight champion unleashed a lengthy statement about the UFC’s mistreatment and bullying tactics.
Johnson claimed that the UFC wouldn’t give him pay-per-view points like other champions and wasn’t marketing him properly, amongst other things. It’s taken a few days to respond, but White disagreed.
“He didn’t want Pay-Per-View. He wanted upfront money, no Pay-Per-View,” White claimed in an interview with TMZ Sports. “He wasn’t very confident in his abilities to sell Pay-Per-Views. He has the lowest-selling Pay-Per-View in the history of the UFC in the modern era.”
White thinks that would all change if Johnson would simply agree to fight Dillashaw. He believes Johnson vs. Dillashaw is a fight that could be a good selling Pay-Per-View that would earn Johnson a hefty payday. He also claimed that the UFC tried hard to market Johnson, featuring him on FOX events and even building a season of The Ultimate Fighter around him.
White also shot down Johnson’s assertion that the UFC threatened to shutter the flyweight division if he didn’t fight Dillashaw, saying that the promotion has considered discontinuing the 125-pound men’s division for years, though it has obviously never pulled the trigger on that idea.
White’s counters to Johnson’s complaints appeared to be sound, but he couldn’t help but throw a dig in at the man that many consider the current top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. In fact, UFC.com lists Johnson in the top spot of the promotion’s official rankings, which are voted on by members of the media. (Disclosure: MMAWeekly.com has two voting members on the UFC rankings.)
It was no surprise whom White declared his choice for the top spot.
“The media claims he’s the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. I think Conor McGregor is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.”
(Video courtesy of TMZSports | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)