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Demetrious Johnson on pound-for-pound rankings: ‘It’s just barbershop talk’

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Demetrious Johnson believes he’s the best fighter in the world, but understands the nature of the pound-for-pound rankings.

MMA fans love to discuss who the best fighter in the world is. In a sport where the combatants come in all shapes and sizes, this has morphed into a pound-for-pound ranking list. For years it was just something that wasn’t taken all that seriously, but when the UFC created their official rankings, they added a P4P category. That has added another layer to the conversation.

While it’s frequently used by the UFC to promote fighters or fights (UFC president Dana White has called at least six different fighters “the best in the world” over the last three years), one man that has consistently stayed near the top of the P4P list since it’s “official” inception has been Demetrious Johnson.

The UFC flyweight champion is the smallest male titleholder in the company, but has defended his title nine times in a row and finishes fights in a variety of ways. In a recent interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, the usually-quiet Mighty Mouse admitted that he believes he really is the best, despite some fans holding a 135-pound loss to fellow champion Dominick Cruz against him when making comparisons (via MMA Fighting):

“I think because that [Cruz fight] happened, what, five years ago?” he said. “You know, I don’t know, but I think for me when you see the overall pound-for-pound…if I was the same size as Cruz, or the same size as [Jon] Jones, weight-wise, everything is identically the same, I would think that I would be able to beat them, showing what I’ve been able to do in the Octagon.

“I’ve knocked people out from the clinch. I’ve submitted people from armbars, Kimura, last-second armbars. I’ve knocked people out with one-hand punch.”

in the end though, Johnson knows that all the P4P talk is subjective and doesn’t really mean a whole lot when it comes down to it:

“It’s barbershop talk,” he said. “[It’s like] when a black man is giving a brother a fade, saying, ‘yo, you know what dawg? That Demetrious Johnson, he pretty good, dawg. He 5-3 though,’ and the other guy goes, ‘yeah, he short but if he’s the same size as that motherf—ker he’d kick his ass, I guarantee it.’ That’s where I think it’s like barbershop talk.”

Johnson is coming off a tough win over TUF winner Tim Elliott earlier this month. His next opponent hasn’t been booked as of yet.