It is undeniable that Demetrious Johnson is the best 125-pound fighter in the world. Since assuming the role as king of the division, he’s ruled the weight class in the UFC since its inception, and last night he out-worked and out-fought challenger John Dodson at UFC 191 to earn the unanimous decision. There’s talk that he’s even one of the pound-for-pound best in the world, and that talk is well founded.
But he has absolutely zero star power, and in a sport where the needle moves on the trash talk of the Nick Diaz’s and Conor McGregors and Ronda Rouseys, he’s gradually killing the division.
No one can beat him. Since earning the belt, he’s successfully defended it seven times, with four of those wins coming via decision, three by submission and one by knockout. He is exciting, a constant blur of movement and violence, and he’s capable of anything. And yet, there’s a certain something that he lacks, a trait often shared by those who actually do make fans want to tune in and watch.
Last night he chipped away at Dodson for five rounds. Maybe Dodson did enough to earn one of those rounds, but ultimately it was the “Mighty Mouse” show, and he flawlessly blended takedowns with the kind of multi-directional striking that drives opponents mad.
It was a stellar performance, but so what? The newscycle will focus less on his greatness and more on how under-appreciated he is, and when he’s booked for another fight somewhere down the line, most fight fans will choose that particular night to skip the pay-per-view and go out to a movie or something.
That’s more than unhealthy for the longevity of a division… that’s killing it.