Demetrious Johnson doesn’t care about his UFC belt
Demetrious Johnson might be the most nonchalant champion you’ll ever meet in the UFC.
In a world built around getting to the top and being the best, Johnson’s approach to holding a UFC title is unconventional and something you’ll probably never experience again.
It’s not uncommon to hear light heavyweight champion Jon Jones talk about breaking records and being the most dominant fighter in the sport. Welterweight king Georges St-Pierre routinely discusses the legacy he wants to leave behind while being considered the greatest of all time.
I’m just here to fight and make money and take care of my family.
Demetrious Johnson on the other hand — a two-time defending flyweight champion — doesn’t even know where his belt is half the time.
"People come over to my house and are like ‘where’s the belt?’ and I have no idea. It’s like I don’t even look at this thing, I don’t even care about it. I’m just here to fight and make money and take care of my family," Johnson told FOX Sports on Monday.
Maybe Johnson’s opinion of what the title means wouldn’t be greeted with a smile from UFC president Dana White, but he’s just brutally honest when talking about his assessment of being the best 125-pound fighter on the planet. Certainly, Johnson appreciates being champion but at some point he knows he’s going to lose a fight and all the attention and accolades fade away in an instant.
He would rather focus on the things in his life that will never change — his wife and new baby at home, and that’s far more important to Johnson than a leather and gold-stamped belt.
"A lot of people might look at it different. In reality, yes I’m the champion but eventually the belt’s going to be taken away from me. I know that’s going to happen. As long as I can cope with that, it’s not a big deal," Johnson said.
"It’s nice but I don’t gloat over it or put it on a pedestal. I’m the champion and I’m happy to be the champion. But as I tell everybody all it takes is two fights and next thing you know, I won’t be headlining shows and I’ll be on the Facebook prelims. So I’m grateful for where I’m at and I’m going to keep on working hard to see how far I can go."
It’s the same for Johnson when his name is brought up in terms of rankings of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s currently listed amongst the top ten fighters in the world at any weight class alongside names like Jones, St-Pierre and Anderson Silva.
Telling that to Johnson is news to his ears because it’s just not something he thinks about. Like any fighter he appreciates the attention and the adoration that comes along with being champion, but his goal in life is not to succeed and equal the accomplishments of a Jones or a St-Pierre.
The fact is none of that matters to Johnson. Whether he’s regarded as the best fighter in the world or just another guy holding a belt, Johnson is the same person now that he was five years ago except he’s now able to provide a better life for his family when he punches out for the day.
Eventually the belt’s going to be taken away from me.
"I try not to think about what people think about me, if they respect me or respect that I’m a champion," Johnson said. "I just focus on myself and my well being and make sure I do what I need to do in the gym to keep on winning my fights. It would be nice to be in the same respect as GSP and Jon Jones. I would assume that the champions hold the respect for all of each other, whether it’s male or female.
"I can’t control what other people think. I can just go out there and put on good fights and hopefully everybody shows me the same respect as Jon Jones and the other guys."
To the casual observer, it’s hard to gauge what exactly moves the needle in Johnson’s world. It’s definitely not rankings and it’s not title belts.
Johnson’s life revolves around his family and that’s what is most valuable to him when the day is done. He knows no matter what happens this Saturday night against Joseph Benavidez, his wife will be waiting with a kiss and his baby boy will just want to be held by daddy.
If there is one other pleasure Johnson gets out of fighting, it’s being the first person on the UFC’s roster to headline three cards on FOX. With the promotion only nine fights into their deal with FOX, Johnson takes that as an extreme compliment that he’s been able to main event three shows, which puts him in a crowd all his own in UFC history.
"It’s awesome to fight on FOX," Johnson said. "I’m glad that Dana White and the UFC are giving me the opportunity to main event these cards and I just train my butt off to make sure I don’t go out there and disappoint."