5 Defining Moments: Demetrious Johnson

By: Mark Raymundo
Oct 11, 2019

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After getting pushed to the limit by Tatsumitsu Wada, Demetrious Johnson advanced to the finals of One Championship’s Flyweight Grand Prix. Waiting across the bracket from him is Filipino striker Danny Kingad, who is coming off a tough semifinals match with the crafty Reece McLaren.

Their finals showdown will serve as the co-main event of One Championship “Century” to be held in Tokyo on Oct. 13. Let the numbers below show just how electrifying this one could be.

1. Devastating debut

Not much was expected of the diminutive Johnson when he made his pro debut on April 28, 2007, at an event called AXFC 16 – Annihilation. Johnson went up against fellow debutant Brandon Fieds. “Mighty Mouse” ended up needing only 17 seconds to dispose of his opponent, who never fought again after that bout. For Johnson, it was the complete opposite. That victory started a 10-fight winning streak in various promotions, including King of the Cage and Alaska Fighting Championships.

2. First setback

With such an impressive winning run, Johnson earned a contract with World Extreme Cagefighting. He was welcomed by Brad Pickett, who was then a veteran of 22 professional fights. While he was able to display some good kickboxing, Johnson had a hard time fending off Pickett’s takedowns. The scrappy Englishman was able to bring Johnson to the ground a total of 10 times in three rounds to earn the nod from all three judges.

3. Octagon debut

When Johnson entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he wasn’t just welcomed by anyone. Waiting for him at the center of the Octagon on the night of Feb. 5, 2011, was Japanese legend Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Sure, Yamamoto was also a UFC debutant, but he was a Hero’s Lightweight Grand Prix winner with victories over Genki Sudo, Caol Uno, Pat Curran, Josh Thomson and Royler Gracie. Johnson and Yamamoto squared off at UFC 126, with the former controlling the latter for three rounds and taking the unanimous decision win.

4. Beating an all-time great

Fresh off an impressive UFC debut, Johnson exuded confidence when he faced Miguel Torres. Confident but respectful was “Mighty Mouse,” who knew what he was capable of but also who he was up against. At the time, Torres was coming off a lackluster Octagon debut opposite Antonio Banuelos, but he was still regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best. After all, Torres had gone 37-1 before suffering a surprise loss to Brian Bowles followed by a loss to Joseph Benavidez. Johnson and Torres engaged in a grappling extravaganza, with Johnson coming out victorious after three rounds.

5. Flyweight king

After defeating Torres, Johnson bowed to Dominick Cruz with the UFC bantamweight title at stake. As it turned out, fate had other plans for Mighty Mouse, which came in the form of the 125-pound strap. Johnson dropped to flyweight and drew with Ian McCall in his first fight. He defeated McCall in a rematch that coincided with the semifinals of the flyweight tournament, the winner of which would be crowned flyweight king. In the finals, Johnson beat Joseph Benavidez to become the UFC’s inaugural flyweight titleholder. Advertisement

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