God might have made him little, but Demetrious Johnson is a "Mighty Mouse."
The 29-year-old Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight titleholder is six title defenses into his reign as one of the top pound-for-pound Octagon combatants. Johnson (22-2-1) hopes to make it seven straight when he locks horns with nemesis and previous foe John Dodson (17-6) at the UFC 191 pay-per-view (PPV) event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 5, 2015.
But before the Washington-based fighter ever called the 125-pound division home, he got his start a floor above in the bantamweight ranks. With a staunch resume and a strong grappling game, Johnson quickly compiled two-straight UFC wins, before meeting one-time bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
"I've fought -- you want to look at my championship fights -- you date back to Dominick Cruz. We were fighting on the feet and then the man suplexed me twice," Johnson remembered on the UFC 191 media conference call (replay available here). "That was a tough fight for me, which I believe gave me the experience to go and be successful at 125."
Following the one-sided loss, he was inserted into UFC's tournament to crown the first-ever flyweight champion. It took two nail-biting performances over Ian McCall and then a close-encounter with Joseph Benavidez to collect the 125-pound crown.
Right after "Joe-Jitsu" was when he first met Dodson. In Jan. 2013, at UFC on FOX 6, "The Magician" gave Johnson a scare early in their title affair (full fight here), dropping the champion twice in the second round, which was something the latter had to figure out a way to counter.
"When we first fought I got in trouble in the beginning of the fight and I had to make a little adjustment to get my hands on him," Johnson said.
Johnson would ultimately prevail off the strength of his unparalleled pace and hand speed. His fight with Dodson, however, would be regarded as one of the most challenging contests in his career.
While Dodson was working his way back to title contention between 2013-2014, reeling off two quick victories before a knee injury sidelined him for several months, Johnson heard it from the Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA representative.
He's been called a "plague" (via Fighter's Only) of the flyweight division and criticized for his reserved demeanor. Johnson has also never been one of the UFC's biggest draws -- which appears to have played a role in the UFC 191 ticket prices -- but he has remained even-keeled.
"It's only the fans and uneducated fools out there that say, "Oh, you're boring" and I'm like "It can seem so, but you just don't know what I'm doing. You don't understand the technique that I bring to the table," Johnson lamented. "Once you start trying to make everybody in the world happy and make the fans happy, then you're going to lose sight of what's more important: Being the best mixed martial artist in the world."
Johnson is right up there with the Ronda Rouseys and Jose Aldos of the world. In fact, he's one rung above "Rowdy" in UFC's official rankings.
The women's bantamweight champion and eighth-highest paid female athlete in 2015 is a bona-fide star thanks to a bold personality and lots of movie parts (check out her latest one here). Rousey, along with fellow past and present champions like Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, have seen their stock raised in clashes with brash rivals like Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort.
While the opportunity to engage in trash talk with his opponent is there, don't expect Johnson to partake in any pre-fight drama.
"If you want to see great mixed martial arts, tune in when I fight. If you want to see drama, you can go watch 'Bachelors in Paradise.' That will be all the drama that you'd want to watch," remarked Johnson.
When it comes down to it, Johnson is all about business and breaking records. Business is good in the flyweight division where he's run roughshod over names like Dodson, Benavidez, John Moraga and most recently, Kyoji Horiguchi.
"If you look in the encyclopedia and ask what type of fighter can do any type of martial arts at a high caliber level; my picture will show up," Johnson said.
He admits to having talks with UFC President Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta about moving up to the bantamweight division; however, that will only happen after he beats Silva for most consecutive title defenses in Octagon history.
And besides, Johnson sees more challenges coming down the pike in the near future.
"There's still a lot of guys I haven't fought. I haven’t fought Sergio Pettis; I haven't fought Henry Cejudo; I haven't fought Ryan Benoit. Those are all great athletes," said Johnson. "Just because they're not big, star names and haven't worked their way up like the other guys and haven't had the chance to test their skill set against guys like Dodson, Benavidez or Ian McCall, doesn't mean there not a challenge or someone I'm not looking forward to fighting."
For the full UFC 191: 'Johnson vs. Dodson 2' fight card click here.