New ONE Championship star Demetrious Johnson excited to leave the drama of the UFC behind

Demetrious Johnson, ONE Championship

These days, it seems like trash talk is part of the buildup to almost every major UFC fight. Pre-fight press conferences, media conference calls and interviews are increasingly filled with virulent mudslinging, while incidents like Conor McGregor‘s infamous bus rampage and the UFC 229 post-fight brawl seem to be making headlines with greater frequency.

For fighters who aren’t fond of this kind of drama, this can be a little problematic.

Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is one of those fighters. Johnson, who is irrefutably one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, has never been big on this side of the fight game. The good news is that, now that’s he part of ONE Championship, a promotion that discourages this kind of drama and encourages qualities like humility, respectfulness and honor, he’ll no longer have to deal with it.

While Demetrious Johnson was careful not to bad mouth the UFC, with whom he says he had a mostly positive relationship, he could not deny his excitement about moving to a promotion where pre-fight saber-rattling and chest-puffing are not part of the equation.

“I was always never the biggest fan of the way people went about promoting their fights over in North America,” Demetrious Johnson said during a media conference call on Sunday evening (transcript via MMAjunkie). “I saw it as a way some athletes used it as a way of bullying, as a way of trying to gain followers. When an athlete says on Twitter ‘why haven’t you signed the contract yet’ to another athlete, for me I see that as a form of bullying. All that’s going to do is stir people to go to that person’s Twitter or social media and say, ‘You’re scared, you don’t want this, you’re chicken.’ When I see professional athletes doing that, that are trying to embody the spirit of a martial artist, it just puts a bad taste in my mouth.”

“I’m very — and I say with high praise — I’m very excited that I don’t have to go through that whole thing and [I can] be OK with myself as a true martial artist. And I felt I’ve always done that in my time here in North America,” the former flyweight champion added. “And now that everybody does that, it’s in everybody’s DNA in Asia. It’s always about respect and promoting the fight the correct way as a true martial artist: We’re going to go in there and test our skills against each other. I’m very much looking forward to that way of promoting fights than it is in North America. That was something that I just didn’t fit in.”

“People told me … there’s nothing worse than when I’m at the gym working out and somebody says, ‘Dude, if you want to sell more tickets and get your name on [a box of] Frosted Flakes, you’ve got to talk more trash.’ That’s not who I am. I’m not a confrontational person. I do mixed martial arts because it’s something I love, and it helps me express my feelings. I’m an artist when I get to compete. Artists don’t run their mouth and attack people or cause a big scene. They focus and put their energy on what they love to do, which is being a martial artist. What I love to do, which is being a martial artist. So I’m vert much looking forward to it.”

How do you think the ever-respectful MMA legend Demetrious Johnson will fit in in ONE Championship?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/29/2018.