All good things come to an end, and Saturday night (Aug. 4, 2018) at UFC 227 in Los Angeles, California, Demetrious Johnson — the first and only man to ever hold the UFC’s Flyweight belt -- suffered his first loss as champion since winning the strap in 2012.
When the scorecards were read and Henry Cejudo was announced the winner after five rounds of action, Johnson didn’t offer up any resistance, he simply applauded Cejudo and respectfully accepted that his time as champion had come to an end. Still, it was rather surreal, as most had the feeling “Mighty Mouse” could and would go on to extend his record of title defenses for as long as he wanted to.
Despite many calling robbery, it wasn’t. It was a clean victory for Henry, who just two years ago was knocked out by Johnson in the very first round. The loss, I’m sure, was especially tough for Johnson to swallow after having his way with everyone thrown his way, making it look easy, making a mockery of the division in the process.
As dominant as he was, it seems Johnson was one of the most under-celebrated champions of all-time, despite setting the record for most consecutive title defenses at 11, surpassing Anderson Silva.
He’s been the face of the division since its inception, been a model champion for the promotion and has never given Dana White and Co. the headaches that other champions have.
I’m looking at you, Conor and Jon.
Still, he has never come close to being celebrated like those two aforementioned champions. Whether it was for his calm demeanor, lack of drama or lack of having a true rival or even his size, Johnson should have gotten more respect as champion than he did.
And it’s not like he smothered his opponents on his way to all of those victories. Of his 11 title defenses, seven of those were finishes. Georges St-Pierre’s final seven title defenses all went the distance.
It’s funny how the mind works; you want to see dominance, but after a while it seems you get used to it to the point that it becomes redundant. And oddly enough, people start blaming it on “the lack of competition.” Sooner or later, a part of you wants to see change as champion just for the sake of seeing something different.
It’s not Johnson’s fault he made it look easy. He’s simply that good.
But let’s not talk as if it’s the end for Demetrious. It isn’t, not by a long shot. While his time as 125-pound champion is over for the time being, Johnson could recover his strap sooner, rather than later, as an instant trilogy fight against Henry should be in order.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk earned an instant rematch after getting knocked by Rose Namajunas in the very first round, as did Cody Garbrandt, who got an instant do-over against T.J. Dillashaw after losing his Bantamweight title via knockout in his first-ever title defense. And let’s not forget Anderson Silva also got a chance to reclaim his title against Chris Weidman after losing his belt via knockout six months prior. As did Jose Aldo with Max Holloway.
If Johnson— a record setting champion — doesn’t get the chance to run it back against Henry, that would be the real robbery. Sure, Cejudo has grand aspirations to face the aforementioned Dillashaw, but that fight doesn’t make sense.
At least not right now.
Henry hasn’t come close to doing what Johnson has done, so while trying to move up a weight class after becoming champion is ballsy to some, it simply doesn’t make sense in the real world. I’d watch it, don’t get me wrong, but Cejudo needs to defend his title at least once before going up and his first attempt should be against Johnson.
Because if Demetrious doesn’t deserve it, then who really does?