Demetrious Johnson is now hours away from his attempt to break Anderson Silva’s title defense record, forever cementing him in UFC and MMA history. Even before Johnson reached this peak in his career, fans and media alike have purposed the idea he move up in weight to create new challenges. He was even in talks to fight TJ Dillashaw, before deciding to continue on his at flyweight. The last time Johnson fought in a bigger weight division was coincidentally the last time he lost. It was against former bantamweight king Dominick Cruz. While Cruz has been praised for his own mind for the sport, he returns the favor when it comes to Johnson.
“When I look at [Demetrious Johnson] since we fought, the place he’s made the most leaps and bounds was in his mind. I think DJ had a lot of early-on doubts about how good he was or could be. As he dropped to this division, where he felt he was at his actual weight class, you saw his confidence change. You saw his words change, the way he promoted the fight change. Everything about him kind of changed. That’s just confidence. That’s just knowing he’s the champion and knowing he’s the best in the world at 135 pounds as well. It just changed his mindset.”
One word to describe @MightyMouseUFC?
— UFC (@ufc) October 5, 2017
“Americans naturally throughout history have always gone towards the bigger, stronger, more mutant-looking type of human. We just always want something that looks out of this world that can also beat you up. When you look at a 125-pound man you don’t necessarily think that right off the bat. You think, ‘no way’ when you look at someone like Demetrious Johnson. What they don’t get is he actually is that good and is a real threat just as much as these big guys are. It’s just hard to visualize it. I think it’s been nothing but good for the division to have Demetrious Johnson there because he’s raising the bar for the division. If you raise the bar for the division they either catch up and gain momentum and get better, or they stay behind and he stays on top. It’s just that simple. That’s all that matters. He’s doing his job and winning.” — Dominick Cruz speaking to ESPN.
Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson have both become different men and fighters since their encounter at UFC on Versus 6 back in 2011. Maybe we’ll see these two fight again before they are both through, but regardless if Johnson moves up, his greatness has already been battle proven and tested. Besides, as he’s said in the past, if he’s about to break Silva’s title defense record, why not keep going? We’ll all be watching later tonight at UFC 216 as Johnson ascends to his greatest moment, or suffers one of the greatest upsets in UFC history at the hands of Ray Borg.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/7/2017.