Demetrious Johnson has been fighting professionally for a decade now, but he does not look like a fighter that has been smashed through those years of high level training and competition. At the same time, he has always been vocal about avoiding taking too much damage in his fights.
Mighty Mouse set a UFC record of 11 consecutive title defenses when he submitted Ray Borg at UFC 216. In that same card, lightweight standouts Lando Vannata and Bobby Green fought a three-round war that ended in a split draw, but earned both men an extra $50,000 each for Fight of the Night honors.
Johnson lauded both Vannata and Green, but if it were up to him, he would be making tweaks in their fighting styles.
“I saw Bobby Green and Lando Vannata, and everybody in the back was like, ‘Oh, man, that’s a sick fight!’” Johnson said during his recent MMA Hour interview (via MMA Fighting). “And I’m like, ‘Dude, look at his face, that cannot be good for his brain.’ I’m just honest.”
“I think [Vannata] is an amazing fighter, he has a great game, he comes forward, does a good job mixing it up, great power. But for me, if I was his coach, I’d be like, ‘Dude, you need to work on your wrestling. We need to work on your clinch game. We need to work on not taking so much damage, because I want you to have a long career.’”
For Johnson, what happens after one’s fighting career is far more important than what was endured during their prime, especially if he or she has the reputation of going through rough fights against tough opponents.
“When you’re done fighting, I don’t want to look back at your fights and be like, ‘Oh man, you were such a sick-ass fighter, you did this and this,’” Johnson explained. “I want to look back at your career and be like, ‘Man, you did such a good job of not taking any damage, and look, you have something to show for it. You have a 15-year career, instead of a short three or four years because of all the concussions you’ve taken.’”
“So that’s my whole thing. But those two fighters, amazing. I told Bobby Green, I was like, ‘Damn, dog, you go have that five-piece chicken meal. I was worried about you. You’ve got to duck and move and do some wrestling, homie.’”