Long-time UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is currently the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. However, it is also a known fact that he is not getting the amount of recognition that is due him.
Johnson’s tenth successful title defense against Wilson Reis last April was not even on pay-per-view. It also garnered the lowest overnight numbers on UFC on FOX’s all-time record.
Mighty Mouse recognizes the current trend in the UFC that seems to favor marquee names or celebrity figures in their own right. In a recent interview with ESPN.com, he says he was not at all surprised at how CM Punk was able to take home a fat paycheck in his Octagon debut as a fighter with a 0-0 record.
“There is not another sport in the world where you can be the best at it but not get paid the best,” Johnson said. “I never wanted to say this before, but I don't care anymore, and it's just facts: When [former WWE star] CM Punk [Phil Brooks] signed with the UFC, people asked me how I felt about it, and I said, ‘CM Punk will probably make more money than I do on his very first fight.’ And he did. I think his payout was $500,000.”
“I have nothing against CM Punk, but if you look at the sheer nonsense of that, it doesn't make sense. I know you have to look at the business standpoint, that he's going to sell a lot of tickets, but he can't fight! That's why I've said the UFC should just try to sign that ‘Cash Me Ousside’ girl, because she'll talk sh-t and probably outsell everybody.”
With all of his grievances, Johnson has actually figured out how much he should be earning, as a fighter of his caliber.
“A long time ago, my coach Matt Hume said, ‘Any UFC champion should clear $1 million per year.’ So say I fight twice a year and my paycheck for each is $400,000. The UFC should send me a bonus at the end of the year to get me to $1 million, for being champion. I know why the UFC runs the business the way they do. I know why Conor McGregor makes a base pay of $3 million. But I think I justify my pay with my skill set, and I've always been willing to promote my brand.”
Johnson also clarified that while he does love fighting, he cannot say the same about the business side of the sport.
“I still love the sport. I love training every day. My relationship with the business aspect of it, how they go about putting money where, has changed. I guess I'm bothered by how fans react to certain things and how they're interested in certain things over true talent. I've always appreciated talent over everything else.”
“People ask me, ‘Oh, what do you think about the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight?’ And there are two ways to answer it. My truthful answer is that I would rather see Conor defend his UFC belt and that I don't think him going to boxing makes any sense. I want to see him use all the skills he has, and I want to see Mayweather fight the best of his sport, like Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin. Another answer I could give would be, ‘F--- Conor! F--- Floyd! I'll beat them both on the same night, they both suck!’ ... and people would eat that up way more than a man giving his honest, truthful opinion. That's what's sad about this sport, and social media, today.”