Category Archives: Demetrious Johnson

UFC champs Conor McGregor, Demetrious Johnson nominated for 2017 ESPY Awards

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor has picked up another nomination for an ESPY, and flyweight champ and pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson is finally getting some shine.

Conor McGregor

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who won the 2016 award for Best Fighter and was nominated for Best Breakthrough Athlete, is nominated again in the Best Fighter category alongside Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC).

It’s the first nomination for “Mighty Mouse” and comes two months after his record-tying 10th consecutive title defense in the flyweight division.

The UFC fighters are competing against boxers Terence Crawford, Gennady Golovkin and Andre Ward.

McGregor is also nominated for Best International Athlete, competing against boxer Canelo Alvarez, sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Katinka Hosszu and soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 2017 ESPY nominees were announced today, with voting underway until the awards show on July 12 in Los Angeles. The show airs live on ABC.

The timing of McGregor’s latest nomination is interesting, considering MMA is about the furthest thing from his mind as he prepares for a boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. Johnson, meanwhile, is in the midst of a standoff with the UFC over his refusal to fight ex-bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw.

MMA’s fringe sport roots have given way to regular recognition from the yearly awards show, which recognizes sports stars, teams and plays. McGregor, Holly Holm, Robbie Lawler, Ronda Rousey, Lyoto Machida, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Edson Barboza are among the fighters nominated for honors at past ESPY Awards shows.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, including “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Title shot? Sure, but Ben Nguyen also happy to welcome T.J. Dillashaw to flyweight

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Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

A quick win over a former title challenger has opened up an array of possibilities for Ben Nguyen, but in the complicated flyweight division, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s next.

Nguyen walked into his recent UFC Fight Night 110 flyweight bout with “The Ultimate Fighter 24” winner Tim Elliott an underdog, but he walked away with a 49-second submission win and a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus. Life, Nguyen will understandably tell you, is good.

But as bright as Nguyen’s octagon future looks, it’s also up in the air. With flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson currently engaged in a public battle with the UFC, the next challenger undefined, and the division’s existence possibly endangered, he has a few scenarios ahead of him.

First, of course, is the ideal one: becoming the 125-pound division’s next title challenger.

“I’ve been doing some reading online, and a lot of people have been speculating and talking,” Nguyen told MMAjunkie Radio. “And people are saying, ‘Ben defeated Tim Elliott, the guy who went the distance with the champ and gave him a pretty tough time. So maybe Ben should have the next shot.’ Especially with all this stupid drama going on with (T.J. Dillashaw) coming down to flyweight, and (UFC President Dana White) threatening to shut down the division.

“Maybe they should just have me jump in. I’ve got the momentum. I’ve got the style. I’ve just beat one of the top guys. So, maybe I’m not too far off. If it was offered to me, obviously I’d have to take it. It makes me really excited, like I could be fighting the champ next.”

While we’ve seen stranger things happen, a title shot doesn’t seem like the most realistic scenario for Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), currently ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings. After all, two other possible challengers have been in the forefront of the public dispute all along.

First, there’s No. 5 ranked flyweight Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), whom the champ had accepted to face before things escalated. And then there’s ex-135-pound champ Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) – whom the promotion has been pushing to get a shot at Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) in what would be the ex-bantamweight titleholder’s first 125-pound outing.

If it helps clear out the situation, Nguyen would also be happy to meet either of the two in a title-eliminator scenario. Especially considering that he agrees with both Borg and Johnson that Dillashaw must first prove he can actually perform as a flyweight before getting a chance to rule the entire division.

“That’s an option as well, fighting Borg,” Nguyen said. “Fighting T.J., I just think that would be a fun fight. I think T.J. should have a fight with someone else in the flyweight division if he wants to actually fight for the belt – just to see if he can make the weight, if he can even perform at a lower weight class. That way the belt isn’t tied up with someone who might not be able to defend it later on.”

And last but not least, there’s the one who got away: perennial contender Joseph Benavidez. The two-time title challenger was actually slated to be Nguyen’s opponent for UFC Fight Night 110, but he had to pull out a month before the fight due to an injury.

“I still want to fight Joseph Benavidez,” Nguyen said. “I still want that fight so bad. But I know he’s going to be out until next year – I think he said early next year, he’ll be ready then.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Trading Shots: Could the UFC really scrap the men's flyweight division?

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Could the UFC’s flyweight division really disappear? It’s something the company has considered, UFC President Dana White revealed during his public spat with the division’s champion, Demetrious Johnson. Now retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to discuss the situation.

* * * *

Downes: Ben, you can add another name to the list of disgruntled UFC fighters. This past week flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson went public with his contractual issues and wrote a statement chronicling the saga.

The list of grievances was fairly predictable. Johnson had issues with his pay, opponents, and how the UFC was marketing him. What was uncommon, though, was finding out that the UFC threatened to shut down the entire 125-pound division if Johnson didn’t go along with plans to have him fight T.J. Dillashaw.

As you can imagine, UFC President Dana White’s response was also predictable. He basically called Johnson a liar (no mention if there were tapes), and said Johnson wasn’t that great anyway. What are we supposed to make of all this? Is there anything noteworthy about this public disagreement, or is it more kindle for the fire burning over at UFC headquarters?

Fowlkes: Seems pretty noteworthy to me if the UFC is considering shuttering one of its divisions, all while White walks back his very recent praise for the company’s most dominant champ.

You mentioned the fact that the UFC president disputed Johnson’s claim that he’d threatened to close the men’s flyweight division if Johnson didn’t take the fight with Dillashaw under the terms offered. But White also said that closing the division is a real possibility, something the UFC has been considering for several years.

Why is that, do you think? It’s not because the fights aren’t any good. You know that as well as I do. It’s not because there’s not enough talent to keep the division stocked. It’s solely financial. The UFC doesn’t feel like it’s making enough money off the weight class, so who cares if one of the very best fighters in the world is there? That might not be enough to save it in the end.

That’s troubling to me. It suggests that this sport is subject to the financial whims of the UFC, which of course we kind of knew already. But isn’t it still a little crazy to think that the UFC might really consider getting rid of a pound-for-pound great just because he doesn’t bring in enough cash?

Downes: No, I wouldn’t find it crazy in the least. Then again, I’m not sure what constitutes a real threat. When you’ve been caught in as many flip-flops and untruths as White, what are we supposed to believe?

Do I think White threatened to close the entire division? Yes. But I also think he means that threat about as much as he meant the following:

  • He’ll cancel Michael Bisping vs. GSP and give Yoel Romero the title shot.
  • He has no interest in signing Holly Holm.
  • Ben Askren “needs more experience” before he can compete in the UFC.
  • Jon Jones will never headline another pay per view event.
  • The UFC isn’t making a dime on the Reebok deal.
  • Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor is never going to happen.
  • Mayweather vs. McGregor is absolutely going to happen

Every public debate involving White and a fighter or manager plays out the same way as this one. We can’t selectively choose to believe his threats and discredit his boasts. Each statement should be taken with the appropriate amount of salt. What we call “lies,” White would probably call “negotiation tactics.” We may think he goes to the intimidation well too many times, but he’s out there importing snow to his driveway while you haggle with the snowplow guy over how much to clear yours.

Let’s just say that the UFC does shut down the flyweight division. You’d have the typical outrage cycle of a couple days while the majority of fans would shrug their shoulders. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be tremendously unfair to Johnson, but what recourse does he have? There are only 28 flyweights listed on the UFC website. They can give all of them two choices: 1) Compete at bantamweight, or 2) go fight somewhere else. What do you think most of them will choose?

The UFC is a business, not a sport. And now it’s part of a large conglomerate. The primary focus is profit. Sure, corporations will change unpopular choices if there’s enough outcry, but do you expect that to happen? If the UFC announced the end of the flyweight division tomorrow, and booked a McGregor return fight the very next day, how many articles bemoaning the end of the 125-pound division do you think we’d see?

Fowlkes: I’m glad you brought up Askren. He serves as a pretty good example of the power the UFC can wield in this sport, and not always for good.

Obviously, he’s a capable enough fighter for the UFC, but odds are he’ll never get the chance to prove it. His style isn’t terribly exciting, so there aren’t a ton of people outraged over that, but still, it reminds us that skill alone isn’t enough to get you on the biggest stage in this sport.

That’s not how it works in most other pro sports. You don’t hear about basketball players being forced to ply their trade in Europe because the NBA commissioner doesn’t like them. But the UFC operates by its own rules, which is how we ended up here, wondering if the UFC will trash an entire division over a dispute with one of the best pure fighters in all of MMA.

You might be right that, practically, White and the UFC could get away with that. But MMA is still a relatively young sport, and I’m not sure the thing the de facto stewards of it should be doing right now is testing the absolute limit of what they can get away with. If you do it that way, you might not realize you’ve gone too far until you can no longer make it back.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Dana White responds to Demetrious Johnson – and this one seems especially egregious

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We’ve always known that rankings were a malleable thing in the UFC, subject to swift and sometimes confusing change. We just didn’t know how malleable until UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson managed to get himself demoted with a written statement.

Two months ago, UFC President Dana White said Johnson was the “pound-for-pound best fighter” not just in the UFC, but in the entire world.

“It’s hard to not call this guy the greatest of all time,” White said after Johnson’s submission victory over Wilson Reis at UFC on FOX 24.

Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) hasn’t fought since then, but he did pen a statement detailing some difficult negotiations with White and UFC matchmakers, who he claimed were trying to “bully” him. And now?

“The media claims he’s the pound for pound best fighter in the world,” White told TMZ.com this week. “I think Conor McGregor is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.”

White’s willingness to waffle on issues like this is nothing new, but this one seems especially egregious. It’s just so obvious. In order to be the top dog in White’s eyes, you have to be in a position to make him money. The moment you’re no longer in that position – or should you become less willing to play along – his opinion changes.

Johnson’s mistake, it seems, was not immediately agreeing to a fight with former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC). Johnson’s version of the story is that he wanted certain guarantees, financially and otherwise, before he’d defend his flyweight title against a man who’s never made that division’s 125-pound limit.

The way White saw it, that smacked of a confidence problem.

“He didn’t want (a percentage of) pay-per-view (sales),” White said. “He wanted upfront money, no pay-per-view. He wasn’t very confident in his abilities to sell pay-per-views. He has the lowest-selling pay-per-view in the history of the UFC in the modern era.”

It’s true that Johnson, who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie flyweight rankings and pound-for-pound rankings, never been a star at the box office, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s still the most dominant champ in the UFC. That this seems to mean so little to the UFC president is telling, though not surprising.

White is a salesman, and for years he was exactly the kind of salesman the UFC needed: brash, aggressive and highly quotable. Where it gets tricky is when sales interfere with sport. The UFC is a business, but it’s also the biggest and most important MMA promoter in the world. That makes it a sort of de facto steward of the entire sport, like it or not. But here’s an instance where the UFC’s business concerns threaten to reshape the landscape in some troubling ways.

According to Johnson, one disconcerting moment in his recent negotiations came when White threatened to close down the flyweight division entirely if Johnson wouldn’t do as he was told.

You might expect White to refute a claim like that, which he did in a sense, but only in a way that made things worse.

“Never once did I threaten him to shut down the division,” White said. “I told him that we had been talking about shutting down the division for years. He knows that.”

Obviously, the problem isn’t a lack of talent at flyweight. Johnson, who is probably the most complete and well-rounded fighter in the world, is proof of that. The UFC’s concern seems to be that it doesn’t bring in enough money, so who cares about those athletes who have dedicated themselves to chasing the dream that the UFC’s been selling?

It’d be a shame to see one of the world’s best fighters end up suddenly unemployed just because he didn’t do enough to fill the UFC’s coffers. It’d also serve as a reminder that, for UFC executives, this sport is a means to an end.

Nobody begrudges the UFC its right to make money off its powerful brand, but White might do well to remember how that brand was built. It’s all based on a simple premise, the idea of putting fighters in a cage together for a trial by combat to determine who is the very best. But if that determination depends too much on sales rather than skill, the calculation gets tricky. The integrity of the sport starts to seem like it’s subject to someone else’s profit margin.

You’d think that after all his years in this business, White would recognize that delicate balance, and maybe he does. Maybe it’s just hard to remember when you’re so busy changing your mind and even your own rankings based on the bottom line.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Mark Hunt's future, Max Holloway's first title defense, and more

Where will Mark Hunt go from here? Who should get the next UFC title shot at featherweight? Should WME-IMG be worried about whether or not Dana White is the right man to lead them into the future?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

Mark Hunt signed a six-fight deal just last year, so new contracts aren’t the big concern right now. For the moment, he’s got to worry about Derrick Lewis throwing those hammers at his head in New Zealand this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 110, but at least Lewis has to worry about the exact same thing in more or less equal measure.

The good news for Hunt here is that, after all his concern about being forced to fight opponents with a history of performance-enhancing drug use, here he can be mostly certain that his opponent isn’t on anything stronger than Fritos.

This is my favorite kind of heavyweight fight, honestly, pitting one fat guy bruiser against another. It feels like it could have taken place in the muck of the Deadwood thoroughfare, on the undercard of Dan Doherty vs. The Captain.

This is a big part of Hunt’s value to the UFC right now. He’s got an exciting style, fans love him, and he serves as a good, though at times limited test for up-and-comers in the heavyweight class. Plus, even in his declining years he can still headline a card in Auckland, and you better believe I’m not going to miss a chance to see it.

As for where he goes from here? Probably back into the cage again as soon as he can. He’s not getting any younger, and the new deal he signed pays pretty handsomely. There are worse fates for a UFC fighter in his 40s.

Either this is a genie with very specific and limited powers, or else I have made a really poor choice on the use of my wishes. But fine, for the sake of the hypothetical, here’s what I would ask of the great genie:

1. Anderson Silva

Because why not, right? Old vs. old. Brazilian vs. Brazilian. Run it back one last time to complete Vitor Belfort’s UFC contract. And then…

2. Chael Sonnen

Assuming the bad guy is willing to put some effort into selling the fight, this could be fun. You know, prior to the bell.

3. Fedor Emelianenko

This one might have to take place in Japan on New Year’s Eve, and I imagine by then Belfort may have found some way to return to the physique he had circa 2012.

4. Guy in a Cartoon Character Mask

Also in Japan. Because if we’re going to get stupid, let’s at least get fun-stupid.

5. Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks

After all that, the man deserves to go out on his own terms.

Maybe, but let’s not act like size explains everything here. Yes, Conor McGregor and Max Holloway are both relatively big for featherweight, and definitely bigger than Jose Aldo, who’s about average. But McGregor went on to claim the lightweight title and Holloway was on a 10-fight winning streak coming into his fight with Aldo, so they’re also both just really good fighters.

My money’s on Frankie Edgar. It’s either him or Cub Swanson, and Holloway’s win over Swanson is only about two years old.

Plus, at 25 you can still paint Holloway as a young gun, even with the title around his waist. He beat one grizzled veteran in Aldo, so why not see if he’s up for a legends butt-whooping tour of his own against old man Edgar next? That’ll give Swanson and the rest of the division more time to sort out a pecking order on their own.

Giving UFC President Dana White a share of the profits is a good way to ensure he puts the new company’s interests first, so that wouldn’t be my big concern. What I’d be worried about is the possibility that maybe he only knows one way to do this job, and maybe it’s not the best way to move the company forward.

Especially lately, we see a paint-by-numbers approach to dissent in the ranks. A fighter won’t do what you want? Run to a friendly media outlet (or a UFC-owned one) and blast him. Fighter complains? Make the case that said fighter isn’t really that good. Fighter wants more money? Hey, even if he is good, people don’t pay to see him (which may or may not be related to how many times you’ve told us he isn’t that good).

White’s primary value to the UFC has been his ability to be a bombastically quotable figure capable of hammering a narrative until it becomes true. It’s also his ability to be a constant. Superstar fighters come and go, but White will always be there, and TMZ will always want to hear what he has to say.

One problem is that the UFC is built on a business model that gives athletes a smaller share of the profits than virtually any other pro sport. That’s bound to breed discontent as fighter awareness increases, and in the past White has been known for heavy-handed responses to fighter complaints. But you can’t cut or bully or threaten or intimidate everyone, so as discontent becomes more common your strategy has to change.

Is White capable of that sort of change? I don’t know. If I were a WME-IMG executive, I’d sure hope so.

I like the general idea of referees having a more open dialogue with fans, since I’m sure we could all benefit from a clearer understanding of the rules and the thought processes that officials go through. My concern is that any referee who tried it would quickly become fed up with it, because who wants to spend their time arguing with people who may or may not understand how any of this is supposed to work?

It reminds me of what former UFC matchmaker Joe Silva told me when I asked why he wasn’t active on Twitter or any of the MMA forums. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to engage with fans or answer critics, he said. It was because he knew that if he let himself get started arguing with people, he’d never stop. It would consume his days. And who wants that?

Someone must care about Demetrious Johnson, judging by how much time we’ve all spent talking about him this week. But I think his lack of broader appeal is due in part to a one-size-fits-all approach to fight promotion.

It’s not just the UFC that’s guilty of it. Notice how you jumped right to a McGregor comparison? It’s like we’ve become convinced that the only way for a fighter to sell is by becoming a pro-wrestling cartoon character.

That’s the easiest way, painting in broad, familiar strokes so that even the people in the cheap seats can see, but there are other ways to do it. “Mighty Mouse” isn’t that guy, but he’s still an interesting guy, as anyone who’s interviewed him lately can tell you. It’s just a matter of figuring out what to do with that. One thing I can tell you is that it’s a poor salesman who tries the same approach every time, and then gives up and blames the product when it doesn’t work.

The UFC has toyed with something like that in various informal ways in the past. Back when those UFC Fight Night events on Spike were a relatively new thing, you’d see a clear progression as fighters graduated from cable to pay-per-view. More recently, you’ve seen it on those UFC Fight Pass-only prelims and events. Even “The Ultimate Fighter,” in addition to being an extremely long-running piece of TV content for the UFC, has provided a steady stream of new talent.

This is a more explicit version of that model, and that seems like the better way to go. We’ve seen the slow erosion of meaning in terms like “UFC-caliber” over the years. Now, instead of gobbling up more talent than it can reasonably use all under the same banner, the UFC is coming right out and admitting that what we’re about to see is a glorified tryout.

That helps gives those bouts added meaning, and lends an easy narrative to those who emerge from the process. As with “TUF,” it probably also helps the UFC lock young talent into contracts before they have too much bargaining power. So there’s that, too.

I don’t even think it’s in the top three reasons for it, and at the moment I’m not even prepared to call it an “exodus,” at least not of top fighters.

A lot of the fighters who have jumped from the UFC to Bellator are guys who felt like their options were diminishing inside the octagon, and the appreciation they felt they’d earned just wasn’t there.

Take Rory MacDonald, for instance. He broke his whole face giving us that epic title fight with Robbie Lawler, and afterward what did he have to show for it? He lost, so the UFC started looking at him like he was UFC Fight Night fodder, and no one could realistically tell him what he’d have to do to change that.

If you’re looking for recurring factors in some of these defections, start there. How do you make serious money as a UFC fighter? For a long time the answer was simple – win a title. But how do you get a title shot? And if you’ve already had one and lost, how do you get another one?

Winning the fights isn’t always enough to significantly advance your career anymore. Just ask Lorenz Larkin. If a fighter is unsatisfied with his pay, the UFC can’t sit him down and believably say, “X performance will lead to Y compensation.”

That’s why I think some fighters are rethinking their stance on Bellator. For some, it’s the MMA version of a lucrative old folks’ home. But for others, the ones closer to their prime, it’s a chance to have their past accomplishments really mean something. Because unlike the UFC, Bellator doesn’t have many of those kinds of fighters to choose from.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

T.J. Dillashaw: Demetrious Johnson will ruin legacy by not fighting me

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Former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw finds himself in a familiar place.

Early in 2016, he wanted an immediate rematch with Dominick Cruz after losing his belt in a closely contested decision. Cruz had other ideas, though, and went on to face Urijah Faber before ceding the belt to Cody Garbrandt.

In April, Dillashaw was scheduled for a title shot against former Alpha Male teammate-turned rival Garbrandt, whom he’d coached against on “The Ultimate Fighter 25,” which is currently airing. But Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) injured his back and was forced to withdraw.

And just a few weeks ago, Dillashaw said he volunteered for and was granted a shot at the flyweight title against champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC). Dillashaw figured if he couldn’t take back the bantamweight belt, a flyweight one would do nicely as a makeup for the Garbrandt scratch.

But now Johnson is refusing the matchup, instead targeting his 11th consecutive title defense against Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC). Johnson says he’s the victim of “mistreatment and bullying” by the UFC, claiming the promotion hasn’t promoted him properly and even threatened to shut down the entire flyweight division if he did not accept the bout.

“I feel like it’s disappointing that Demetrious is going to go out this way and not take the fight,” Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) today told MMAjunkie. “I don’t care if it’s Cody or if it’s Demetrious, I just want to fight. I want to fight soon. I want that big title fight.

“But I need to know sooner than later, because I’m in the process of changing my entire body around right now. This isn’t an eight-week process; this is a 12-week process. Not only do I want to make the weight, I want to perform at the weight, as well.”

After the latest snub, Dillashaw is hoping Johnson changes his mind and signs a contract. As of this moment, he is training and dieting as though he will fight the flyweight champ Aug. 19 in Seattle, an event expected to serve as UFC 215. That’s about the most he can do.

At this point, Dillashaw said, there’s no cutoff for when the drop to flyweight becomes untenable for the late summer event. But the longer he waits, the more he’s at a deficit should the fight materialize.

“I think the smartest thing for me to do is stay on the path I’m on now until Demetrious mans up and realizes he’s going to ruin his legacy by not taking this fight,” Dillashaw said.

In a lengthy statement, Johnson accused Dillashaw of being UFC President Dana White’s “buddy who is neither a bantamweight champion or flyweight contender,” saying Dillashaw should have to work his way into contention before getting a title shot.

“That’s the farthest from the truth,” Dillashaw said. “Me and Dana were butting heads for the last two years about me trying to get a title fight.”

Johnson also cast doubt on whether Dillashaw can make weight and said the UFC undermined its request to fight Dillashaw by telling him a possible fight with Garbrandt wouldn’t sell on pay-per-view. But Dillashaw said all of Johnson’s concerns are “null and void” when it comes to a potential fight between them.

“(Johnson) wants pay-per-view, which he would get if he fights me,” Dillashaw said. “He wants to be promoted, which he would get if he fights me. We both want the same thing – we both want to be the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, as well as make a lot of money and be promoted. To fix all those problems, the only thing he has to do is fight me.

“Demetrious wants to say I’m jumping the line to fight him when there is no line to jump. Cody jumping in front of me to fight for the title is a bigger jump than me jumping the line at 125 to fight him.”

So the former bantamweight champ has tried to give Johnson some additional incentive to punch him in the face, issuing a callout on Instagram in response to Johnson’s statement.

“This is the fight game, I’ve takin title fights on 24hrs notice,” he wrote Monday. “I’m already waking up at 143lbs, on my way down to put a squash to this hype. You want to call yourself the Goat then what do you have to be afraid of?!”

The problem with that approach, it seems, is that Johnson doesn’t appear to be a man swayed by personal grudges. He simply wants the UFC to pay him Dillashaw’s guaranteed purse if Dillashaw shows up heavy, a demand Johnson said the UFC is unwilling to meet.

Dillashaw said if it were up to him, he’d offer his guaranteed money and urged the UFC to do the same.

“He should be worried about Ray Borg missing weight; he’s missed weight half of his career,” Dillashaw said. “I’ve never missed weight since I was 8 years old wrestling. Tell him he can have my show money if I miss the weight. I ain’t going to miss it. It’s just another excuse not to take the fight.”

“I don’t know why it’s pulling teeth with him,” he added. “The only thing I can think of is that he’s scared to lose his belt.”

Johnson declined an interview request from MMAjunkie.

Dillashaw said his public callout and rebuttals aren’t necessarily personal. He said outside business, he respects Johnson and thinks highly of his family. Only in this case, he thinks Johnson is off base.

Dillashaw said the interest that’s been generated since his name was dropped by White has proven his case that there’s money to be made with a fight. More than that, he said, Johnson could solidify his status as the pound-for-pound best by beating him to break the UFC’s consecutive title defense record with 11 fights.

If Johnson elects to fight Borg, Dillashaw said, he’ll be missing a big opportunity.

“There’s been a lot of attention, more attention than Demetrious has gotten in a long time because I said I’d fight him,” he said. “It’s been proven there’s attention behind this fight. He’s going to be fighting to break the record, and nobody’s going to watch it (vs. Borg).”

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Champ Demetrious Johnson took his UFC feud public, and here's how the flyweights responded

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Could the UFC flyweight division be disbanded just five years after it was introduced? Champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson claims that’s been one of the threats made by the organization.

Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC), who’s largely been a company friendly fighter while reigning as the only 125-pound champion in history, revealed this week that his relationship with UFC brass has taken a sharp turn south in recent weeks after it was suggested his next title defense be against former bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC).

Among other things, “Mighty Mouse” claims UFC President Dana White threatened to shut down the entire flyweight division if MMA’s top pound-for-pound fighter didn’t accept the fight with Dillashaw for UFC 215 in August. Johnson thought it was unfair for Dillashaw to receive an immediate title shot without having competed in the weight class, and he wanted financial assurances if his opponent missed weight.

Moreover, Johnson said No. 5-ranked flyweight Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was most deserving of the next shot, and making that fight would keep the division in order as “Mighty Mouse” attempts to set the all-time UFC title defense record with his 11th in his next fight.

The reactions to Johnson’s stance have varied, but for the most part, his fellow fighters – and specifically fellow flyweights – have stood behind the champion’s stance. Henry Cejudo, Ben Nguyen, Tim Elliott, Zach Makovsky and Jarred Brooks also weighed in.

Here they are:

What happens next remains to be seen. Johnson has aired his grievances in a very public way, but he said his relationship with the UFC is far from irreparable. He would be willing to fight Dillashaw or Borg, but first his conditions must be met, which Johnson doesn’t view that as an unreasonable request.

If Johnson is to be believed, the UFC is willing to ax a weight class with more than 25 active fighters because the champion won’t play ball. Johnson encouraged the company to follow through on that threat if it’s something truly even being considered.

Fighter unrest has been a common theme for the UFC in recent months. Johnson is just the latest example, but if his situation gets worse, the ramifications could be more extreme than any previous feud.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie