UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson talks Dominick Cruz rematch, disinterest in FLW division and UFC matchmaking.
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is poised to make history in just a few hours when he meets Wilson Reis in the Octagon to defend his title for the tenth time. If successful, he will have tied the record of arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva. It’s an achievement worthy of all the buzz it’s receiving, but traditionally, the flyweight division has had great difficulty getting much steam behind it.
In a recent interview with Bloody Elbow’s Three Amigos Podcast, Johnson discussed why he feels the division has struggled to gain a solid foothold with fans in terms of viewership, a problem he feels is attributed to the lack of drama among the athletes in the weight class.
“You know, I’m not sure. There’s not a whole lot of drama in the division because I’m not a controversial person. You know, I go in there and do my job, then I go home and take care of my family.” He continued with an honest assessment of the division that has historically attracted the most fans, light heavyweight. “You look at the light heavyweight division, and it’s pretty thin in terms of talent, but it gets one of the biggest buzzes in the UFC because you have Jon Jones with all his legal issues and his beef with Daniel Cormier. Honestly, I just think that there’s not a lot of buzz for flyweight because there’s not a lot of assholes in our division.”
In his illustrious career, Johnson has only suffered two losses, the first to Brad Pickett (now retired), and the second to former bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz. Having cut a swathe of destruction through the division, many fans have been holding out for a rematch with Cruz, a prospect he admits he doesn’t put much thought into.
“If it happens… Listen, a lot of the reporters and media think about all that stuff, but me, I think about my fight in front of me, then I have that fight and go home. After that, I start thinking about how I can build my video game career, or about my family. I don’t sit there and loll around in bed, rubbing my chest like, ‘Huh, will I ever fight Cruz again?’ If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
The man looking to dethrone “Mighty Mouse,” Wilson Reis, was slated to fight for the title last summer, but a leg injury forced the champion to withdraw from the bout. Reis was able to slide right back into the Number 1 contender spot, despite the fact that Joseph Benavidez has toiled away, racking up six wins since his last defeat, a crushing knockout courtesy of Johnson. Benavidez also lost to Johnson via split decision in their first contest.
For Johnson, this comes as no surprise, and feels that Reis was the logical choice to fit the bill for the UFC to promote “fresh blood” narrative.
“Yeah, I’m not surprised at all. Wilson Reis worked hard for his title shot, and the next thing you know, it got taken away from him because I got injured. He wasn’t gonna sit there and pout and whine and say, ‘I’m gonna wait it out.’ He actually kept on working hard, won two in a row, and now here we are, about to throw ‘em up.
The whole thing with Joseph being on a 6-fight win streak, I think the UFC was looking at it like if he were to lose again, what do you do—three losses to the champion of the division—do you send him to 135? Do you cut him? What do you do?
At the end of the day, the UFC does what they want, and they wanted fresh blood and a new story, and we got it.”
There was plenty more in this great interview, which can be found HERE, at the 1:17:25 mark of the audio. Demetrious Johnson will face Wilson Reis tonight in the main event of the UFC On Fox 24 card in Kansas City, MO. If he wins, it will mark his tenth, successful title defense, a record currently held by the legendary Anderson Silva.
Remember, if you’re looking for us on SoundCloud or iTunes, we’re under the MMA Nation name. Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie Haynes, Three Amigos Podcast, Iain Kidd and Mookie Alexander or our Facebook fan page, Three Amigos Pod.