Reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (pictured) is quickly, and very quietly, climbing up the greatest UFC fighters of all time totem pole. Unfortunately for Johnson, fans seem more focused on his inability to be a big draw than his big time abilities inside the cage.
Johnson now has six straight UFC title defenses following Saturday’s victory over Kyoji Horiguchi. He trails only light heavyweight king Jon Jones (eight) and featherweight champ Jose Aldo (seven) for longest current reigns in the UFC.
If you want to talk all-time dominance, former middleweight title holder Anderson Silva sits atop the mountain with 10 consecutive defenses and prior welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre has nine. Johnson isn’t far off from entering this conversation.
Why hasn’t Johnson’s vast achievements translated to popularity?
Is Johnson so fast that the commoner can’t catch all of the remarkable things he’s doing during the live action? Maybe.
Is it because Johnson’s style isn’t edge-of-your-seat exciting? That can’t be it, because he’s disposed four of his last five victims before the final horn. He even set a UFC record for latest finish by submitting Horiguchi with only one tick remaining in their five round affair.
Is Johnson too nice and doesn’t talk enough smack to get noticed? Possibly.
Do fans simply not care as much for the lightest male weight class in the UFC? Highly likely.
Enter (again) John Dodson, the talented and sometimes annoying slugger who is the only man to give Johnson an inkling of trouble since becoming the only 125-pound champ the UFC has ever known in 2012.
Johnson posted a (48-47, 49-46, 48-47) unanimous decision victory in their 2013 matchup.
Dodson has unleashed two straight knockout wins since the defeat and hasn’t been shy about calling for a rematch. If he’s able to get past Zach Makovsky at UFC 187, a sequel with Dodson might be the best thing for “Mighty Mouse” at this stage of his career.
Dodson isn’t a bad guy, but he did rub many the wrong way during his stint on “The Ultimate Fighter 14.” Oh, and who can forget about the obnoxious laugh he intentionally screeches just to get under people’s skin?
It’s becoming abundantly clear that Johnson’s skills and personality aren’t selling, so he needs the help of an arch rival to really put him on the MMA map. Dodson could be the Chael Sonnen to Johnson’s Anderson Silva. Or the Conor McGregor to his Jose Aldo.
In most sports, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. In MMA, it’s just a small piece of the pay-per-view pie. Dodson can help Johnson get a bigger slice.