Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has been traded to ONE Championship. Now the former title holder has come forward to issue his thoughts on why he made the move.
“Mighty Mouse” was traded to ONE Championship in exchange for former ONE welterweight title holder Ben Askren being added to the UFC roster. Speaking in a recent conference call, as reported by MMA Fighting, Demetrious Johnson revealed that he believes UFC fans wanted a different fighter to be champion of the flyweight division.
“I think for me going back and trying to regain my title there was nothing there for me, because if I look at it as the standpoint as a martial artist, it was something that I’ve already beaten Henry Cejudo and I truly felt that I’ve been beaten a lot worse. When I fought Dominick Cruz (for the 135-pound title on Oct. 1, 2011), I felt like I truly was the smaller guy. I mean, he suplexed me three times for God’s sakes. So with that I thought if I went back and fought (Cejudo), who knows how the fight could have went?
“I could have won it the third time, or I could have lost again, and I took a step back and I was like, ‘Okay, what do I truly want? Like ask yourself that, DJ, what do you truly want?’ And I was like, I wanted something different. I wanted to mix it up. I wanted to do something different. I want to be able to walk out to the cage and feel butterflies, or if it’s the ring, I want to face a different type of competition and I knew if I went back and I would have won that belt again, then I knew that I would be staying in the exact same organization, fighting the exact same athletes — which, they are phenomenal athletes — but I’ve beaten pretty much everybody on that roster so far and so I felt this was a perfect opportunity to me. I wasn’t held by being the champion anymore.”
“For the longest time, a lot of people in North America wanted a new champion. They see they can really push that pay-per-view model, they really didn’t care about how my skill set was. They really wanted somebody who is going to be brash, who is going to disrespect — and not that Henry Cejudo did that — but they wanted somebody else.
“I feel like they wanted somebody else, and when I say somebody else, not the UFC, I felt like the public wanted somebody else to try to take that mantle to somewhere I couldn’t. Like, for numbers, or bringing notoriety or whatever. So I felt like, this is my perfect time for me to go pursue something I want to pursue and let those guys handle that.”