Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is the greatest Flyweight champion in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA). The man defended his title 11 times over five years before losing a razor-thin split decision to Henry Cejudo in their second fight.
Only Jon Jones has more title defenses at 13 ... and he did that over multiple reigns.
But, while Johnson is clearly G.O.A.T. caliber, he was never getting G.O.A.T. pay. In fact, he was making pretty miserable money even a couple fights into his Flyweight championship run. In a new Twitch stream that made its way onto Twitter, “Mighty Mouse” laid out the not-so-mighty pay figures he was making for fighting extremely tough competition atop the division.
“When I fought Dominick Cruz [for UFC’s bantamweight title], I was fighting for 14k [to show] and 14k [to win],” Johnson said. “Lost to Dominick Cruz, I made 14k. Then I was about to fight Eddie Wineland, but that didn’t go through so I fought Ian McCall in Australia. I was still on that same contract. And then, I got a NEW contract when I fought Ian McCall for a second time, I think I got bumped up to $20k/$20k.”
The two Ian McCall fights were for UFC’s inaugural Flyweight championship in 2012, so keep in mind Demetrious is sharing his championship purses moving forward.
“And then I fought Joseph Benavidez and I was still on that $20k/$20k,” he said. “When I fought John Dodson I made $23k/$23k, when I fought John Moraga it probably went $26k/$26k, and then when it was Joseph Benavidez [again] I think it was like $30k/$30k.
“And then I finally got a new contract as champion, and I think it was $125k/$50k, but I didn’t get pay-per-view points and that’s where most champions get their bang for their buck, it’s in pay-per-view points,” he continued. “Because if you get on a card with a Conor McGregor and he does 2.1 million buys, then you just do the f—ing math, you’re going to make a s—load of money.
“I never got the opportunity to do that, so when they tried to stiff arm me for the fight against T.J. Dillashaw I was like ‘Pay me a f—ing million dollars and I’ll do it,’” he recalled. “‘This is a super fight, let’s make some super money.’ They never wanted to do that. That’s why I came out like that, basically pushing back, like when does a champion have leverage, when does a champion get what’s due to him?”
DJ TALKING ABOUT HIS UFC CONTRACT. HE WAS STUCK MAKING 30/30 IN HIS 3RD TITLE DEFENSE. pic.twitter.com/0HZV9Tjcza— Chungus Supreme (@FightsCameraPod) January 18, 2023
“I’m going on my seventh or eighth title defense, you’ve got C.M. Punk over here and he’s making 500 bones [500k] and it’s his second fight in the UFC. That’s where the chip on my shoulder came from.”
Fighter pay is always a hot topic in MMA, and while many fans are quick to say “Mighty Mouse” was never a mainstream draw (a point Johnson would agree with), that doesn’t seem to justify paying one of the greatest to ever do it less than the NFL league minimum.
Johnson would end up getting traded to ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren in 2018, and these days UFC barely mentions one of the most impressive championship runs in the promotion’s history. If it wasn’t for commentator Joe Rogan giving “Mighty Mouse” his due on broadcasts, he might be forgotten completely by a large portion of the fanbase.
Johnson has gone 4-1 in ONE Championship, with his most recent win being an amazing flying knee knockout of Adriano Moraes at ONE on Prime Video 1 in Aug. 2022 (watch it). That victory earned him the ONE flyweight championship belt.