The UFC’s longest-reigning champion Demetrious Johnson won his UFC flyweight title in September 2012, which in the digital age, feels like eons ago. Let’s take a look back at what the world looked like the last time “Mighty Mouse” wasn’t wearing a UFC belt.
The UFC champions landscape looked very different
All of the fighters in the above picture, except Frankie Edgar -- who lost his belt to Benson Henderson in February 2012, were champions around the time Demetrious Johnson was preparing for his UFC title fight.
Now, nearly five years later, none of those fighters are belt holders.
In the months leading up to Demetrious Johnson’s title-winning fight at UFC 152, a little-known backup point guard from the Knicks was tearing up the NBA in what would soon be dubbed “Linsanity”
Face. Eating. Zombies.
Was it bath salts or flesh-eating zombies? I’m not exactly sure but I know it was happening way to often for my liking back in 2012. Coincidence that the apparent zombie apocalypse came to an end around the time DJ won the belt? I think not.
Silva vs. Sonnen was the biggest rivalry in the MMA world
Before Jones-Cormier and Diaz-McGregor, Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen was probably the nastiest, most contentious rivalry the UFC had seen.
Silva defeated Sonnen via submission two years earlier to hang on to his belt and spent the first half of 2012 hyping the rematch. “The Spider” won the July 2012 matchup for his 10th UFC title defense. Johnson attempts to tie that mark this weekend in Kansas City.
Zuffa LLC via Getty ImagesDonald Miralle/Zuffa LLC
The NFL opened the 2012 NFL season with replacement refs, much to the chagrin of players and fans everywhere, thanks to a labor dispute between the league and officials. The situation hit a tipping point when the Seattle Seahawks ”beat” the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on Monday Night Football after referees missed a blatant offensive pass interference before giving conflicting signals on the play’s outcome.
This all happened the same weekend as Demetrious Johnson’s first flyweight title fight.
By the next weekend, the NFL referees strike was over.
Ronda Rousey was still fighting for Strikeforce
Ronda Rousey is a household name today but back in 2012 she was still making a name for herself under the Strikeforce banner. In August of that year, Rousey secured her fourth-straight first-round submission, catching the eye of Dana White, who’d previously said women would never fight in the Octagon.
Boy, have times changed.
The Dark Knight Rises
“The Dark Knight Rises” was the biggest movie in the country the summer before Demetrious Johnson became champion. The film was just one of four movies to make over $1 billion worldwide that year, behind “The Avengers,” “Skyfall” and “The Hobbit.”
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
The UFC ushered in a new era in 2016 with new owners at WME-IMG taking the reins from former architects of the promotion, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta.
However, in 2012, WME and IMG were completely separate entities. WME purchased IMG in 2013 and the rest is history.
Getty ImagesVictor Decolongon
Conor McGregor hadn’t won his second title … his second Cage Warriors title, that is
Not only was Conor McGregor a relative unknown within America MMA circles in 2012, he wasn’t even the two-weight class champion under the Cage Warriors banner. McGregor won the Cage Warriors featherweight title in June of 2012 but didn’t win the lightweight belt until December, three months after Demetrious Johnson became UFC champion.
"Call Me Maybe" and "Gangnam Style"
Two of the most meme-able songs in the history of meme-able songs took over the American music charts in the lead-up to Demetrious Johnson’s first UFC title fight. In March of 2012 Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” hit the Billboard 100 followed by “Gangnam Style” in September. Those songs spawned a number of spinoffs and parodies that, in 2017, we’d all love to forget.