Age test: When you hear the name Mighty Mouse what do you think of? Most of us conjure up images of a mouse in a super hero costume saving Mitzi from the evil cat Oil Can Harry. No? Okay I’m old. Well, the classic cartoon is no more, but at least for fight fans we have Demetrious (Mighty Mouse¬) Johnson.
DJ, as many like to call him, is 5-foot-3 and fights at 125 pounds in the UFC flyweight division. He is a small man and although he doesn’t wear the cape and tights, he does possess the speed and packs a punch like the old Mighty Mouse character of yesteryear. Johnson is getting ready to fight Joseph Benavidez for the first UFC flyweight championship this Saturday night at the Air Canada Center in Toronto. History will be made, but all Johnson is focused on is preparing for what Benavidez is going to dish out.
“I’m ready for him to hit me as hard as he can and I’m ready to go out there and be slick, use my footwork and use my technique. I’ll give him a great fight, he knows it’s going to be a tough fight and that’s why he’s training his butt off.”
For Johnson it has been a journey to get to this point. It’s not easy to get into the cage and fight back-to-back wars with someone like Ian McCall and then fight for the title three months later. In fact this will be Johnson’s third fight in six months. However, according to the Madisonville, Ky., native, win or lose this Saturday night, life will go on as normal.
“It’s a journey. If I go out there and beat Joseph Benavidez, I’m going to go home, relax, let my body heal up and then I’m going to get back into the gym to get ready for my next fight. If I lose, the exact same thing is going to happen. I’m going to go home, relax and get back in the gym and to get ready for my next fight.
Regardless, it’s just a journey and I just hope I’m able to fight for as long as Vitor Belfort. For him to be fighting at 35 years old and at a high level of competition, that’s what I want to be able to do when I’m 35 or 36, just keep competing and putting on great shows.”
Speaking of Belfort, he is fighting Jon Jones in the main event this Saturday in Toronto. It’s a spot that Benavidez and Johnson were originally scheduled to fight in. There is some cachet to being in the main event of any UFC PPV, but the small guys were once again knocked down a peg to make room for what the fans deem as sexier a matchup.
“When those guys showed up on the card, the ticket sales went up tremendously. This means we needed the help to get the ticket sales up there, because we weren’t doing enough. That just shows you that there are more fans out there for those guys (than) who will come to watch the flyweights. Flyweights haven’t had a lot of exposure yet and we need the help. I don’t want to say that, but we need the help to get our name out there. As long as it gets the fans in the seats, then we’ll deliver them a show to make them remember the flyweights.”
Currently the UFC flyweight division is not very deep but Rome wasn’t built in a day. The 125-pound division will eventually become one of the most exciting divisions in the UFC and Johnson and Benavidez will become the pioneers of the weight class.
This Saturday night someone will be an answer to a future UFC trivia question. So if Johnson were to walk away with the championship around his waist, what would he do with it?
“I’ll take it home with me and probably put it in my office somewhere. Then my wife will be like, ‘You need to display that,’ and I’ll be like ‘no babe…it’s just a belt.’ When you’re a champion and you win the belt, it’s good, but you’ve got to be able to hang on to it for a long, long time. Anderson Silva is the undisputed true champion; he’s never been beaten in his UFC career. He’s finished a lot of dangerous people. If I win the belt, I just have to keep on defending it. When I defend it like 100 times, then I’m the true undisputed champion.”
Winning the title and becoming the first UFC flyweight champions means everything to DJ. So much so, that even a wedding and a honeymoon was not going to get in the way of his climb to the top.
“I was supposed to get married right after the semi-final fight with Ian McCall. I was supposed to win that fight, go get married and have a honeymoon and then come back and fight Joe for the title but the fight was ruled a draw. The UFC said that I didn’t have to cancel my wedding and honeymoon, and that Joe could fight McCall for the title and I would 100 per cent fight the winner.”
I said, ‘No way.’ I want to be the first UFC flyweight champion. I told my wife that I was going to have to be training three times a day while we were on our honeymoon. She understood and we made our honeymoon about running along the beach or climbing this hill. We made it work. She understands I have to become the first ever UFC 125-pound champion.”
Talk about a competitive SOB and an understanding wife. If Johnson walks out of the Octagon with the flyweight championship you have to believe that his wife will own a piece of that gold.
Yet, you can’t be surprised by Johnson’s drive and competitive nature. This is a guy who walks to the cage with the Xbox logo on his shorts. When he is not being a family man, or training for a fight, he is sitting in front of his TV with an Xbox controller firmly in hand. He likes to win at everything and has even issued out a challenge to fans everywhere to take him on in the video game universe.
“I just picked up Tekken Tag Tournament 2. I challenge any UFC fan out there to take me on. Challenge me on my Twitter and you have yourself a fight. When I was in the media conference, I think they asked me and Joseph like three questions and I was so pissed. It was like an hour and fifteen minutes and I should have been playing damn video games.”
So a warning to Benavidez and gamers everywhere, Demetrious Johnson puts his entire being into competition. It doesn’t matter if he has to train during a honeymoon, cancel Christmas, or spend every waking hour in his gym in Washington State; Johnson is dedicated and wants to win.
He may not have a cape or a cheesy super hero costume, but he epitomizes the Mighty Mouse name.