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Demetrious Johnson’s Dominance Not Translating To Dollars

Written by Tom Ngo
September 9th, 2015
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UFC Demetrious Johnson

Reigning flyweight king Demetrious Johnson (pictured) is easily the most underappreciated champion in the UFC. Who posts a dominant victory to go up 2-0 on John Dodson – the man most pundits believed was the only legitimate threat to Johnson’s throne – to notch their seventh straight title defense and still get booed?

“Mighty Mouse” does, that’s who!

Following the lopsided victory, UFC president Dana White dubbed Johnson the game’s pound-for-pound ruler. Interim UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor was busy challenging nearly every other UFC star to a fight over the weekend, but actually managed to find the time to pay Johnson a few compliments after reorganizing Dodson’s mug.

McGregor doesn’t give props often, so we need to cherish these rare moments.

As far as current dominant UFC champions, Johnson only trails women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey in separation from their peers. Rousey has lapped the field, and now so has Johnson. However, Rousey gets the nod over Johnson because her last five victims have only managed to last a combined 188 seconds against her.

Regarding the most decorated UFC champ presently donning hardware, Johnson is tied for the top spot with featherweight champ Jose Aldo with seven consecutive title defenses (Aldo also has two as WEC champ before getting promoted to the UFC).

Johnson’s resume speaks for itself, so why doesn’t he receive the kind of love worthy of his accomplishments? Is the UFC’s fastest fighter too fast for his own good? His lightning quick moves impress the hell out of his fellow fighters, but most fans can’t comprehend his flawless technique because they blinked.

UFC 191 garnered only $1.3 million at MGM Grand Garden Arena’s gate. That’s the least the UFC has scored for a pay-per-view event in Las Vegas in 11 years. The UFC is a privately-owned company, so their PPV revenue is kept top secret, but according to reports, nearly every PPV Johnson headlines pushes recent UFC marks for lowest buys.

And it’s not as though Johnson will make up that money in salary. He was the third-highest earner at UFC 191 despite having his name first on the marquee.

As dominant as Johnson is, he’s just not a draw with fans, which leaves the UFC in a bit of a bind. If there wasn’t a UFC event almost every single weekend, Johnson would likely co-headline a PPV or headline a free UFC on FOX card in his next outing.

But because the UFC has saturated the market with so many shows, Johnson will continue to get top billing on PPV events despite his star power not warranting it. Which is fine, because the fans will just continue to not pay for it.

A bitter rival would help Johnson out tremendously, but there isn’t a Chael Sonnen to his Anderson Silva in sight. Unfortunately for Johnson, dominance doesn’t equate to dollars. And that’s a shame.

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