After three memorable fights, the UFC has decided to match up Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno for an unprecedented fourth time. The two are slated to face each other sometime in July, with Figueiredo once again defending the flyweight strap after reclaiming it at UFC 270 in January.
But as of late, both Moreno and Figueiredo have expressed interest in a different opponent in the form of Kai Kara-France. And if you ask former perennial UFC 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson, it is the right thing to do.
“Why do a fourth fight? Why?” Johnson told Ariel Helwani in his Monday appearance on The MMA Hour. “Fight Pantoja. Let Pantoja fight. Let Kai Kara-France fight. Fight somebody totally different. Go out there, get your mojo back if you feel like you need it. Get a fresh look in front of you.”
“Everybody’s always trying to chase this title. Don’t chase the title, the title will come if you’re worthy of it, if your path leads you to that. Don’t just try to run down a road and run in the same f—ng roadblock.
“Fight somebody else, then maybe, you’ll find something else in the other fighters you go against. And then when you approach that roadblock again, you’re like, ‘Ah, I know how to do this this time. It’s not the same thing I’ve been looking at for the past two to three years.’ Do something different.”
As someone who was in the same position years ago, “Mighty Mouse” understands the money involved in booking a fourth fight between Moreno and Figueiredo. But for him, it’s still not worth closing the doors on potentially massive opportunities.
“Yes, it makes a lot of money sense for the UFC, and maybe for the athletes, too,” Johnson said. “I know how the UFC contracts are structured, so whether Brandon Moreno fights Figueiredo or Kai Kara-France, I’m sure he’s probably gonna get the same pay.
“Them boys ain’t gonna get pay-per-view points. They never gave flyweights pay-per-view points. Don’t act like y’all getting 800,000 pay-per-view buys.
“You’re better off fighting Kai Kara-France or Pantoja,” he continued. “And then if you get that, boom. You get your show and your win, so you probably make $250K. Then, you might be in the escalator, so you fight another one.
“That’s another $250K, so you just made $500K. And now, you fight for a world title, then you get your $30K Reebok sponsorship.”
Johnson then offered some advice.
“At the end, you’ll be like, ‘Hey, I got two fights in my contract. You know what? I don’t want to re-sign. I want to fight this one. I believe in myself.’ You go out there and fight, and let’s say you win the belt, next thing you know you’re in a great position.”
The 35-year-old Johnson is currently signed with Singapore’s ONE FC after that 2018 “trade” with the UFC in exchange for Ben Askren.
Johnson bounced back from his 2021 KO loss when he faced ONE’s Muay Thai champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon on March 26th. He won via second-round submission in a mixed-rules bout.