Freelance: Why Demetrious Johnson is the Greatest Pound-For-Pound in MMA History
To some, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is just two fights away from pure greatness, from permanently etching his name in the UFC’s history. To others, the argument can be made that Johnson is already the promotion’s best athlete to ever put on a pair of gloves.
The MMA world will soon have its answer as to where he stands, but feel free to share your thoughts on the argument below until then.
The Perfect Ten
The entire backstory for Johnson’s next bout against Wilson Reis is based around the fact that should he defeat Reis (most likely by unanimous decision) he will tie Anderson “The Spider” Silva’s overall UFC championship defense record at ten defenses. Next will come breaking that record with 11. The thing is, in a way, he’s already proven himself to be the best.
Silva has not lost his record, but has since failed a drug test for elevated levels of testosterone due to “a tainted sexual supplement.” So, in the court of public opinion, he will now always have an asterisk attached to his name for popping for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs.)
Also, the biggest criticism of Johnson as a champion is that he is a point-based fighter, but throughout his career, he has shown versatility. Including his published amateur fight history on Sherdog.com, Johnson came under the Zuffa, LLC umbrella of the WEC/UFC promotions with just two wins by decision and ten stoppages.
Additionally, due to his point-based stand-up style, “Mighty Mouse” has an underestimated ground game. Of those ten finishes, a five-submission win streak is included. What often happens after that is that a finisher then gets questions regarding whether or not said fighter can go the distance of a full 15 or 25-minute fight.
Including losses to Brad “One Punch” Pickett and Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz at bantamweight (135 pounds) as well as a draw against Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall in Johnson’s flyweight (125-pound) debut, 12 of Johnson’s fights then went the full length.
Just before his win over Tim Elliott in December, some were questioning that fight-ending ability Johnson once had. He then silenced the doubters by knocking out an Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling (Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo) in just under three minutes of the first round.
A record-tying win seems as predictable as the sunrise.
The Absence of Jon Jones
Johnson is atop the P4P list on the UFC’s official website. The name that is not on that list was or is still the other half of the P4P debate: Jon “Bones” Jones. Jones has the slightly better record (absent of draws like Johnson’s) with only one loss by disqualification to Matt “The Hammer” Hamill. The loss came by way of a largely-despised rule against 12-6 elbows (downward moving elbows like 12-6 on the face of a clock.)
More importantly, Johnson is the champion that Jones isn’t.
The only reason Jones is not on the pound-for-pound list at the moment, is because he is not considered an active fighter after receiving concurrent one-year suspensions from both the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) for failing a UFC 200 drug test—for the same alleged reason as Silva.
Before that, Jones was on a path to redemption after winning the interim UFC light heavyweight (205-pound) championship.
This was a title the otherwise truly undefeated Jones never lost but he was stripped of the title following highly-publicized hit-and-run incident that broke the arm of a pregnant woman. Jones also had a drinking and drug problem, testing positive for cocaine metabolites. Jones was stripped of both his original and interim belt.
Jones also is partially responsible for the UFC’s first-ever cancelled event. His UFC 151 opponent in Dan Henderson attempted to compete despite injuring himself during the pre-fight training camp. He then did not reveal the injury to the UFC until the last minute. In the eyes of fans and UFC President Dana White, the right thing to do would have been to accept a new opponent (“The American Gangster” Chael Sonnen) which Jones did not do.
To date, Johnson has never been in any legal trouble (that is public knowledge,) never failed a drug test, and never turned down a fight. Depending on who you talk to, Jones is the mire exciting fighter. However, Johnson is dependable.
Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
Johnson might not have done as well at bantamweight, but unlike the great money-bringer that is the “Notorious” Conor McGregor, Johnson did not “skip the line” en route to that title fight with Cruz or the rematch with McCall to become the flyweight champion. Since becoming the top dog of the division, it seems that the only thing Johnson cares about is Silva’s record (breaking it.)
He has also actually defended his title as part of a myriad events ranging from the main event of a pay-per-view (UFC 174, 178, 186, and 191) to various free UFC on FX/ UFC on Fox events, to the recent Ultimate Fighter 24 finale.
While all champions would like to be the face of a pay-per-view, it could also be taken as a huge compliment to make Johnson the marquee name on the upcoming Kansas City, Missouri card in just under ten days. This will be the first-ever UFC event in KC and the state of Missouri as a whole.
But what makes Johnson the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in MMA history?
He doesn’t care about be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in MMA history. Johnson said on The MMA Hour in December of 2016 that he does believe his is the best, he also said:
“I’ve knocked people out from the clinch. I’ve submitted people from armbars, Kimura, last-second armbars. I’ve knocked people out with one-hand punch…. “It’s barbershop talk.”
“[It’s like] when a black man is giving a brother a fade, saying, ‘yo, you know what dawg? That Demetrious Johnson, he pretty good, dawg. He 5-3 though,’ and the other guy goes, ‘yeah, he short but if he’s the same size as that motherf—ker he’d kick his ass, I guarantee it.’ That’s where I think it’s like barbershop talk.”
If there is only one statement to be made about the champion, it’s that he likes to fight and he’s brilliant at it.
UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Reis takes place on April 15, 2017 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.