Sometimes UFC fighters get a talking to from promotion executives when they go too far in an interview or on social media. In fact, some fighters’ comments have been deemed so out of bounds that they were released for them.
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson recently got a talking to from Dave Sholler, the UFC’s vice president of public relations about interviews he had been given. However, during the conversation, Johnson wasn’t told to reign it in at all, but rather Sholler told him to let loose, more.
"Dave Sholler sat me down and said, ‘you know, I hear you edit yourself in your interviews. I know who you are as a person and I just feel like you’re hindering yourself.’ So, when he told me that I just thought, ‘Ok, I’ll just talk like I usually do when I’m at home, in front of every body,’" the champion recently told Submission Radio.
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"I’ve been knowing Dave Sholler since my WEC years and I’ve come a long way in my career. Now he’s just trying to help me blossom into a beautiful flower, I guess you could say."
Well, there you have it – a loose joke from Demetrious Johnson during an interview, and not a bad one at that. Johnson went on to explain that he never felt afraid to be himself, but it helped to hear that he could be more confident to show himself in public.
"I don’t want to say I was ever scared to voice my opinion. I was just trying to make a good example, I guess you could say. And even when I’m more outspoken, I believe that I am still making a good example for younger athletes and also future athletes. I think it was just Dave Sholler trying to help me grow up and be more confident when I speak and do my interviews," he explained.
That freedom feels nice for the champ, who next defends his belt Sep. 5 in a rematch against John Dodson, at UFC 191. "It’s a good feeling," he admitted.
"You still have to watch out. I can’t just go out there and say a whole bunch of other stuff but I can say what’s on my mind and people can love it or hate it."
In the love and hate department, Johnson and Dodson have had no love lost between them since their close 2013 title bout in Chicago. Johnson has always performed well in rematches, and plans to put his stamp on Dodson in an even bigger way than his come-from-behind decision victory two and a half years ago.
"That’s the goal," he said.
"I mean, we’re training extremely hard. I’m pushing myself. I’m not doing anything nice and relaxed, calm, and being comfortable. A lot of people misunderstand what it means to have good cardio. Good cardio is when you are able to push the fight, and I’ve shown that in all of my fights."
Johnson worked hard to go from factory worker to world champion fighter and he says he brings that hunger with him every day to training as well as on fight night. There is no chance that Dodson will want the title more than him, according to Johnson.
"You have to take the belt and I dont give my opponents a chance to take my belt," he said.
"I go out there and take away their opportunity to take my belt away from me. That’s what I’m going to do Sep. 5."