The UFC has been teasing that this 25th anniversary year is going to be huge. Going into 2018, it’s hard to imagine a big fight year without the superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw happening. It’s been teased even before Johnson broke Anderson Silva’s title defense record with a spectacular submission finish never before seen in the UFC. Dillashaw has already been training, the fight was falsely teased, both parties want it and the UFC needs it. So, why hasn’t it been finalized yet? Aside from recovering from shoulder surgery, it’s because Johnson wants the best possible scenario for him and his opponent.
“It’s the superfight everyone wants. I think TJ [Dillashaw] and I are both on board. We just want to make sure it’s on a stacked card. We want to make sure we can benefit from a good pay-per-view buy. I think I deserve it and I think he deserves it. I’d rather have somebody else [be the] main event, who is going to bring in way more PPVs. In my opinion, that’s held up the fight on my end. I’ve seen guys jump on [stacked] PPV cards and make $1.5 million, fighting an inferior opponent than who I’m about to fight. Me and TJ could fight on a smaller card and pull 275,000 buys, get an extra check for $75,000. My management told me, ‘You know what, we’ll hold out for a big event.’ A lot of media and fans think that’s a way of turning down fights or ducking someone, but that’s a way of being a smart businessman and getting the most money you can get.”
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) October 9, 2017
“I’ll wait for that opportunity, because in that one card, I’ll basically make more money than three fights — a year and a half of my life — [combined]. If we can get three title fights — a champions vs. champions edition — that should do well. If they did Georges St-Pierre vs. Tyron Woodley, Amanda Nunes vs. [Cris] Cyborg and me vs. TJ, they can send me the contract. They can negotiate that contract now. I’m straightforward. If UFC comes back and says, ‘You know what, Demetrious, we’re not going to give you that,’ I’ll say, ‘Perfect, send me the No. 1 contender in the flyweight division and TJ can stay up and fight whoever he wants.’ […] I’m not going to sit here and f-cking argue. ‘This is what I want. If you’re not going to give it to me, that’s fine. I’ll just keep fighting guys in my division. You want to strip me? Fine, perfect. Strip me. I’ll work my way back up the ladder.” — Demetrious Johnson speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Regardless of how bad the fans want the fight or what criticisms they can try and throw at Demetrious Johnson, it’s hard to dismiss his matter-of-fact reasons for why the fight hasn’t been made yet. A fight between two UFC champions definitely deserves to be on a giant card. If the UFC has doubts on Johnson’s drawing power as Dana White has controversially said about the UFC flyweight champion before, then that’s all the more reason to place it on a big event headlined by an ever larger draw. Let’s make this fight happen in 2018. TJ Dillashaw deserves it. Johnson deserves it. The fans deserve it.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/24/2018.