As the only person to ever hold the title in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight division, Demetrious Johnson has been doing all the right things inside and outside the Octagon.
He's defended his belt five times since winning it in 2012 against the best the 125-pound weight class has to offer, does what the promotion asks of him, and perhaps more importantly, he has never found himself in the middle of any controversy.
Still, "Mighty Mouse" has often faced criticism from his fellow flyweights for failing to promote himself and the division enough to gain a larger fan base. That's because Johnson has garnered all of his success without engaging in much trash talk or belittling his opponents in an attempt to hype up a fight; which is perfectly okay.
Sure, the champ shows up to the press conference and goes through the motions like the true professional he is, but some -- like No. 1 ranked flyweight contender John Dodson -- feel "Mighty Mouse" needs to step his PR game up if the division ever hopes to gain the popularity the heavier weight classes enjoy.
Check out what "The Magician" had to say on the matter to MMA Fighting:
"Demetrious Johnson is doing something that a lot of people should be doing, just backing it up by fighting. He's showcasing his ability to be a true champion by being able to finish by strikes, submissions, or a winning decision without squeaking by anybody. With that being said, him not being able to pop kind of ruins it for all of us. That's why we all need to step up as athletes and start doing it ourselves. If the division wants to have some limelight, then we need to start having some other fighters who can present that opportunity. It doesn't matter if we're a champion or not."
"It kinda is hard to watch because if he's not promoting -- being a champion you have to essentially be the president of our division. Like, you have to sit there and be in front of people and popping and showing everybody a different side of us that will [draw] people into it. Like Anthony Pettis went out and became a Wheaties box champion but nobody ever cared about that. They have Donald Cerrone, who's consistently fighting and has a Budweiser sponsorship, going out to Daytona. People are more excited for Donald Cerrone to go duck hunting and go see something else rather than having Anthony Pettis being on a box of Wheaties. It just shows you that it's us, as individual flyweights, that we need to do something differently rather than complain about the person who's holding the title. If we wind up waiting for that title to change, then we're [not doing our jobs] anyways."
Ian McCall, another top-ranked flyweight contender and former two-time "Mighty Mouse" foe, also expressed his disappointment in Johnson's inability to promote his fights and the division as a whole, noting that perhaps the champ just isn't a "marketable guy."
Still, the fact remains, the champ has already defeated both McCall and Johnson.
But, Dodson feels winning isn't enough, and it may be up to other 125-pounders with outgoing personalities such as himself or "Uncle Creepy" to get the ball rolling, regardless if either one of them are champion.
"Everyone loves me because I can knock someone out and I have such a beautiful smile. People love Ian McCall because of the fact that he has a cartoon face with a mustache and hair and his girlish figure. Well, if everyone makes [Johnson] out to be bad for the division, then us, as fighters, need to step up at that division to get people interested in it. We have to show a purpose. If you look at the two divisions who finish the most people, it's flyweights and the heavyweights. They're the ones who have, by stats, the highest ‘Fight of the Night' and [‘Performance of the Night'], which shows that we are exciting fighters. We just need to prove to everyone that we're worth it to watch."
For his part, "Mighty Mouse" is adamant he won't change his easy-going personality in favor of going full Conor McGregor just to boost pay-per-view (PPV) buys. This, despite the fact that "Notorious" has shown that talking-the-talk while walking-the-walk usually equals success, as far as viewership is concerned.
The champ looks to earn his impeccable title run when he faces off against rising contender Kyoji Horiguchi at the UFC 186 PPV event, slotted for April 25, 2015 inside the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
For more on that fight click here.