UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson joined BJPENN.COM Radio on Wednesday, March 20 to discuss his career, rehabilitation from shoulder surgery earlier this month and what he expects when he returns to the Octagon.
After suffering a torn labrum that forced him out of his schedule Flyweight title defense against John Moraga at the Ultimate Fighter 17 finale on April 13, Johnson (17-2-1) has been recovering at home with his wife, who is expecting their first child. Despite the excitement of his son’s impending birth, Johnson remains sternly focused on his return to the Octagon, pulling double-duty by rehabbing twice a day.
As the UFC’s reigning Flyweight champion, Johnson has noted that he has noticed changes in his everyday life through his increased recognition outside of the cage.
“It’s changed in that I do a lot more media, a lot more people want to talk to me. And with the UFC Media it’s a lot more hectic, but it comes with the job, and I get noticed a lot more everywhere. The other day I was in Safeway and this guy rolled up and he goes, ‘Hey, you fight for the UFC now! That’s right baby, Mighty Mouse in the house!’ and he just drove off. So a lot more people notice me, and it’s awesome but other than that, I’m still the same guy. I still wake up, have my four eggs every morning, spend time with my wife and play video games” Johnson said.
Video games, a celebrated hobby of “Mighty Mouse”, have paid off in the form of a sponsorship with XBOX, which has translated into fan-friendly tournaments with the champion at the controller. Fans who were skilled (and lucky) enough to best the UFC’s top 125’er earned autographed memorabilia, most recently in a contest of “Halo: Reach”.
Johnson also spoke on the differences in his approach since dropping to the 125-pound division after spending time in the UFC’s Bantamweight class, which holds a limit of 135 pounds. Despite having little training time since his surgery roughly two weeks ago, Johnson still holds true to his assertions that he’s a natural 125-pound fighter.
“The heaviest I was, was 151 but that’s because of all the fluid they pumped in me for the surgery. But after I came off that fluid, I weighed 143 and that’s been consistent and I haven’t been working out. So I don’t typically get really big I’m just a small guy naturally, so I’m fighting guys more my size. Matter of fact, at 125 my diet’s a lot more strict, I’m cutting weight lie everybody else is in this sport, and I’m fighting guys more my size.”
As a naturally smaller man, Johnson had nowhere else to go until the UFC adopted a 125-pound division, but was never thwarted in his attempts at UFC gold before, having fought valiantly against current UFC 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz.
Most recently, Johnson defended his flyweight title in the main event of the UFC on FOX 6 card against John Dodson, the Ultimate Fighter season 14 winner. Dodson had also competed in the 135-pound weight class until the opportunity arose for him to drop down once the UFC welcomed the flyweight class to their ranks. It was his fight against Dodson that proved to be Johnson’s toughest test to date.
“Dodson, he’s fast but I think what most people don’t understand is that Dodson’s very explosive and when I was fighting him he did a lot of backing up, so that’s why in that fight I had to stalk a lot more than me being in-and-out, in-and-out, in-and-out. Because when you fight Dodson you have to put that pressure on him, you can’t just let him dictate and then explode on you, and then relax, relax, you have to put constant pressure on him. So me, mentally, I knew that I was going to take some damage in that fight because I’m fighting out of character.”
Johnson later noted that Dodson’s explosiveness contributed to their bout being the hardest of his career, especially due to the fact that Dodson was able to significantly hurt “Mighty Mouse” more so than ever before. It was due to that, Johnson said, that he feels Dodson deserves the billing of “toughest opponent” he’s had to face.
“I’d say he had me hurt really bad at one part of that fight, the other two knockdowns were just like, flash and off-balance knockdowns, but the one where he dropped me, I had no idea where he came from. I remember when I got hit, I was like “holy shit, where did that come from?” and I got right back up,” he said, explaining that of Dodson’s three knockdowns, only one held any significance. “So I’ll say Dodson because I never experienced that in a fight, and I’ll retain it, and I have to give him that bill.”
Once rehab is complete, Johnson will resume training to finally meet number one contender John Moraga for the UFC Flyweight Championship. In closing, “Mighty Mouse” gave his thoughts on the upcoming bout:
“I think John Moraga is a different type just because he’s really well-rounded; he’s a very good wrestler, he showed submission game in his UFC career, and also a TKO. He presents some problems, you know? I think-I mean we’ll see when we get out there. We have been able to analyze him before I went in for surgery, we were already training for him and getting ready, and we have what we’re going to do out there. So I’m looking forward to it, and we’re just going to see what happens when the date gets set and we get in there.”
To hear Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s interview in its entirety, including his thoughts on what it means to defend his title, training with Matt Hume and what it’s like when fans talk “hella crap” to him on XBOX, listen to BJPENN.COM Radio on demand in the player below:
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