Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson notched his tenth consecutive title defense at UFC on FOX 24 last Saturday night (April 15, 2017), thanks to a third-round submission win (watch it) over venerable Brazilian grappler Wilson Reis.
Which I just found out is pronounced “hey-us.”
Anyway, “Mighty Mouse” trapped the No. 3-ranked contender in a nasty armbar, a finish good enough to send the Kansas City faithful into applause while tying former middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva in the UFC history books.
Books that should now reflect Johnson as the greatest of all time, according to the man himself, who just bumped his name ahead of Silva and former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
“GSP and Anderson, they’re great champions, but I'm the best champion to ever step into this Octagon,” Johnson said during his post-fight victory speech. “I’m finishing my opponents. There’s not another champion who can mix it up ... wrestle, strike, clinch.”
He may have a point.
When Johnson (26-2-1) first won the 125-pound strap at UFC 152 back in Sept. 2012, courtesy of a split-decision win over Joseph Benavidez, the MMA landscape looked dramatically different from top to bottom.
See for yourself:
Heavyweight Champion: Junior dos Santos
Light Heavyweight Champion: Jon Jones
Middleweight Champion: Anderson Silva
Welterweight Champion: Georges St-Pierre
Lightweight Champion: Ben Henderson
Featherweight Champion: Jose Aldo
Bantamweight Champion: Dominick Cruz
Flyweight Champion: Demetrious Johnson
Women’s divisions had yet to be created in UFC.
Dos Santos was crushed, Jones got stripped and suspended, Silva was knocked out, St-Pierre called it quits, Henderson was submitted, Aldo got his clock cleaned, and Cruz went down on points.
Johnson, meanwhile, just kept on trucking.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone as technically proficient as him and I’ve watched all the tape,” said UFC on FOX analyst Brian Stann. “To stay this focused and this dedicated this long is unheard of. It has taken time to get the respect from the fans. Finally, this crowd, he owned it tonight.”
Six of his 10 title defenses have been finishes, which is less than Silva, but more than everyone else, including St-Pierre and Jones. It should come as no surprise to learn that “Mighty Mouse” is the No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
But the best ever?
That might depend on how you qualify that sort of designation. Johnson was faced with some pretty tough outs in his career, including flyweight studs John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez, along with Henry Cejudo.
They weren’t all spectacular, but Silva also had his share of duds, as well as a couple of welterweights.
I think one thing to also consider is that Johnson never failed a drug test, found himself in legal trouble, or publicly embarrassed himself (or the promotion). He’s been a model citizen, as well as an outstanding fighter.
His biggest crime is being tiny.
The good news is, there are some little lads in the bantamweight division, too, including reigning division kingpin Cody Garbrandt. It will only cost UFC President Dana White one-meelion-dollars.
Or we can just settle for reruns at one-third the price.