Demetrious Johnson: UFC fighters that call me out are “building my brand”

ONE Championship, Demetrious Johnson

Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is now firmly embedded as a member of the ONE Championship roster, but he’s still routinely called out by UFC fighters.

Most recently, Johnson was called out by Deiveson Figueiredo, who captured the vacant UFC flyweight title with a win over Joseph Benavidez in July.

“That’s definitely a fight that all the fans would want to see—me against Demetrious Johnson,” Figueiredo said post-fight. “But if the UFC wants to bring him back, I’m going to be very happy. I’m going to knock him out and with a lot of pride, and I’m very happy to do that.”

Johnson, who ruled over the UFC flyweight division for many years, isn’t phased by these callouts, and feels that they only help to build his brand.

“I don’t think anything of it,” Johnson told SCMP MMA this week. “If they want to mention my name, they can mention my name. That’s how I think of it. I think of it as them building my brand.

“I’m not even in the company any more and I still get brought up all the time, which is awesome. That just speaks to what I have been able to do in my career in mixed martial arts.”

Another fight that is often mentioned for Johnson is a tie-breaker with fellow former UFC champ Henry Cejudo, who is 1-1 with across to previous bouts.

Johnson believes Cejudo would probably perform well in ONE Championship, but added that some of the former Olympian’s hobbies might not go over well in some Asian markets.

“I don’t know how ‘The King of Cringe’ [Cejudo] would do [in ONE],” Johnson said. “He does say a lot of things to build his brand. I’m assuming he would fit well, he’s a gold medallist. Other than that there is not much I can say.

“There are things, recreational drugs he does that is not allowed in Japan and Singapore,” Johnson added, referencing Cejudo’s use of recreational cannabis. “In America, you can smoke pot and be upfront about it but I don’t know what ONE Championship wants. At the end of the day, it’s up to them if they want him to come over.”

Demetrious Johnson has gone 3-0 since moving to ONE Championship, defeating Yuya Wakamatsu, Tatsumitsu Wada and Danny Kingad to become the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix champion. He’s expected to get the next crack at the promotion’s flyweight champion, Adriano Moraes, but the status of the bout is uncertain amid the coronavirus pandemic.