Demetrious Johnson: After Four Years as UFC Champion, “I Can’t Retire.”

Demetrious Johnson

We’ve seen some huge paydays in MMA recently.

Back in March, Conor McGregor became the first fighter in UFC history to be paid $1 million dollars, flat-out. Months later, at UFC 200, Brock Lesnar more than doubled that record with a disclosed purse of $2.5 million. Then, in August, McGregor once again beat the record with a $3 million payday for his rematch with Nate Diaz, who took home $2 million – coincidentally the same amount Fedor Emelianenko has apparently been offered to fight for Rizin this December.

Even several fighters on last weekend’s UFC 203 made bank. Heavyweight title challenger Alistair Overeem took home $800,000. Miocic, who defeated Overeem, took home $600,000. And then, there’s pro wrestling veteran CM Punk, who rattled some cages with a $500,000 payday.

Needless to say, the potential for huge paydays now exists in MMA. Unfortunately, not everybody is getting these paydays.

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, the incredibly dominant UFC flyweight champion is one of these underpaid fighters. Johnson recently told Submission Radio that, despite a reign of nearly four years, he still isn’t be able to retire.

“You look at the NFL. Those guys want more money because they have a short opportunity to make as much money as possible,” Johnson said on the show. “I’m only thirty now and I had ten years. I’ve fought for the UFC since 2011. So what is that? Essentially, five years I’ve competed in the UFC and I’ve been the champion for almost four years. I can’t retire right now. So if I was an NFL player and I played four years and won the super bowl four years in a row, I guarantee I can fucking retire. You’re starting to see a lot of fighters like, ‘We want more money so we can be able to retire eventually,’ instead of, we get to 30 years-old and we’re like, ‘Alright, I think Costco has openings’.”

 

Despite not making as much as he’d like, Johnson also outlined his plans for a super fight with UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz – a fight he says he’d expect a purse of $2 million to partake in. According to the flyweight champ, he’s more likely to get that whopping payday if he builds his name up a little longer.

“It’s not the right time [for the super fight],” Johnson explained. “Let’s say I beat The Ultimate Fighter Winner and then I’m like, all right, I’m going to go fight Dominick Cruz. And then you guys are like ok, sweet, he’s going to do a super fight. But let’s say I defeat The Ultimate Fighter, I defend [the title] again, that’s nine [defenses], I do it again, that’s ten and I’m on the verge of Anderson Silva’s record. Then I break Anderson’s Silva when I have 11 consecutive title defenses. I break Anderson’s Silva’s record, and maybe then everyone is like ‘ok, you’re the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.’ Dominick Cruz has defended his belt multiple times, he’s built his name up, he’s been active, and I’m like ‘boom, now it’s time for the super fight.’ I think if I do that path it’ll sell way better and do way better numbers than if I was just like “ok, I’m gonna fight you now, Dom’.”

Johnson and Cruz first met at bantamweight, back in 2011. On that night, Cruz successfully defended his title with a unanimous decision win. Not long thereafter, Johnson would become the champion of the new flyweight division, where he would rattle off eight consecutive title defenses – nearly all of them dominant. Cruz, meanwhile, would be stripped of his title after years on the injury list, only to return and reclaim that title from TJ Dillashaw in early 2016.

Are you interested in seeing these two greats fight each other, and do you think they’d deserve big money to do it? Sound off, PENN nation!