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COVID threatens to retire Demetrious Johnson — ‘I might never fight again’

UFC 227 Ultimate Media Day Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who now competes for ONE Championship in Asia, has not competed in over a year and as of this writing, does not have a date for his return to mixed martial arts (MMA).

At age 34, the clock is definitely ticking.

Unfortunately for “Mighty Mouse” and many other international athletes, COVID-19 has either halted or severely hampered most professional sports. In addition, the global pandemic has proved to be unpredictable in its cycle, putting Johnson’s future in jeopardy.

“I might never fight again, all that needs to happen is COVID 2022, and everything gets shut down, no live events,” Johnson told MMA Junkie. “COVID-19 didn’t really hit me hard. I didn’t care about fighting. I just cared about being with my wife and kids, helping them being successful in their schooling. Obviously, me staying healthy for when the time comes I can be ready to fight. But when COVID-19 hit, I was more father-retirement mode because when else I’m I going to fight again, I don’t know.”

Johnson (30-3) was shipped overseas in a rare contract trade that saw former ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren sign with UFC. “Mighty Mouse” has since racked up three straight wins while “Funky” retired after getting finished in back-to-back fights.

ONE clearly got the better half of that deal.

UFC was able to get back to the fight business with its friends in Abu Dhabi providing a venue for international events, in addition to the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas. ONE is expected to follow a similar path at some point early next year.

Until then, all Johnson can do is wait (and stream on Twitch).