UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson entered his 10th title defense already in the ranks of Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones as some of the greatest champions of all time, but he may have left the bout surpassing them all.
Here are four reasons why after his record-tying 10th title defense, “Mighty Mouse” might be the best UFC champion ever, or at least well on his way there.
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He defended his belt 10 times
After Saturday’s impressive beatdown of Wilson Reis, Demetrious Johnson has defended his UFC title 10 -- count ‘em -- 10 times, which ties Anderson Silva’s record for most UFC title defenses.
Winning 10 straight fights is hard enough but to accomplish that feat as champion, against the fighters DJ has faced during his run, is truly remarkable. The opponents Johnson has faced during his run have a combined 156-48 record and his four wins over Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson prove just how talented he is, considering Benavidez and Dodson have only lost to one other fighter in their respective UFC careers (John Lineker for Dodson and Dominick Cruz for Benavidez).
“Mighty Mouse” has been downright dominant during his run against the best the division has to offer. And as UFC.com writer Thomas Gerbasi pointed out after DJ’s win, he’s only 30 years old and still getting better.
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He’s impeccable inside and outside the Octagon
His skill is bar-none inside the Octagon and he can do any- and everything in regards to mixed martial arts. Outside of that, Johnson is a model citizen in his community. He’s never been in any type of trouble, never tested positive for any PEDs or illegal substances, avoided major injuries and he truly loves to fight. The UFC has had some fantastic champions, but few can check all of the above boxes.
He finishes fights
Fans love fighters who finish fights. But as a champion fighting the No. 1 contender in every bout, getting a highlight-reel finish might not be in the cards. Former champs Jon Jones and Anderson Silva were able to finish fights throughout their runs but guys like Georges St-Pierre and Jose Aldo struggled with it later in their championship reigns.
Demetrious Johnson falls in the former group.
DJ has managed to finish 60 percent of his title fights, including submissions of elite grapplers Wilson Reis and John Moraga and his KO of heavy-handed former Olympian Henry Cejudo.
He’s never truly been close to defeat as champion
Nearly every champion in the conversation for greatest champion of all time has either tasted defeat or come very close during their run. Before Anderson Silva lost his belt to Chris Weidman, he almost had it snatched up by Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 when he was down 4-0 entering the fifth round before winning by late submission. Jose Aldo was felled in one punch by Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre had a hellacious ride against Johnny Hendricks before he stepped away from the sport and Jon Jones squeaked by Alexander Gustafsson in a bout some fans still claim went the other way.
Demetrious Johnson has never been that close to defeat during his title run. Johnson has never even been outstruck during his run as champion.
John Dodson dropped Johnson in their first bout but the champ ended up finishing that fight with a 127-57 significant strike advantage and five takedowns. Tim Elliot won “The Ultimate Fighter” and fought DJ like a man with absolutely nothing to lose, and it worked for the first round or so. But eventually, like usual, DJ figured it out and pulled away in the championship rounds.
“Mighty Mouse” has definitely been tested during his title run, but he’s passed with flying colors.
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He isn’t stopping any time soon
Johnson has repeated over and over against that he’s laser focused on breaking Silva’s record and becoming the greatest champion in UFC history.
He’s been tempted with rematches against then-champion Dominick Cruz, who beat him in 2011 and is his only UFC loss. And there is even the opportunity to go up in weight and face electric bantamweight Cody Garbrandt in a superfight.
But DJ has wisely put all of that on the backburner to accomplish his goal. Johnson is in his athletic prime at 30 years old and he’s got plenty of time to not only break the record but shatter it. The division was quite shallow at the start of Johnson’s reign but now up-and-comers Brandon Moreno, Sergio Pettis and Ray Borg present new, exciting puzzles for the champ to figure out.
If history has shown us anything, it’s that DJ is up to the challenge.