Demetrious Johnson has revealed exactly why he decided to leave the UFC in favour of a move to Asian MMA promotion ONE Championship.
Speaking to the media on Sunday night via conference call, Johnson explained how his views on fight-promotion in the US contributed to his decision to leave the world’s biggest MMA organisation.
“I was always never the biggest fan of the way people went about promoting their fights over in North America.
“I saw it as a way some athletes used it as a way of bullying, as a way of trying to gain followers.
“That’s not who I am. I’m not a confrontational person. I do mixed martial arts because it’s something I love, and it helps me express my feelings. I’m an artist when I get to compete.
“Artists don’t run their mouth and attack people or cause a big scene. They focus and put their energy on what they love to do, which is being a martial artist. What I love to do, which is being a martial artist.”
You don’t necessarily have to like DJ to appreciate what he’s saying here. The path he has taken since day one has been one centered on his goal of being the greatest flyweight to ever do it.
He doesn’t talk trash, he is respectful to virtually everyone he talks to and above all else, his focus lies primarily on improving his skillset.
Johnson just didn’t seem to tie in the with the UFC’s idea of what their P4P no. 1 should be and now, he hopes that he will be able to find a better fit as he begins the next chapter in his career.
“It’s always about respect and promoting the fight the correct way as a true martial artist. We’re going to go in there and test our skills against each other.
“I’m very much looking forward to that way of promoting fights than it is in North America. That was something that I just didn’t fit in.
“I’m very excited that I don’t have to go through that whole thing and (I can) be OK with myself as a true martial artist.”
As for his first move, Johnson is expecting no handouts from his new employers.
It’d be easy to assume that Mighty Mouse would be given an immediate shot at the belt in ONE – and while that still may happen – the man himself is not afraid to make his way through the ranks if necessary.
“I’m pretty young in my career and I wanted to try something different. I’ve always wanted to travel the world and compete, and I actually grew up watching Asian mixed martial arts, mostly with PRIDE.
“The opportunity to travel over to Asia and compete was something I couldn’t pass up. I leave the UFC with no regrets and on good terms. I’ve done everything I can over there.”
“I’m not going to come out there and bring a message to any of other flyweights. I’m a new athlete and I have to work my way up the ladder just like everybody else did.
“I’m not looking for any hand outs, not looking to go over there and cause any drama because that’s not the way of a true martial artist. A martial artist is a person who works hard, keeps his mouth shut, and does what he’s told.”
I would imagine that he’ll get a lot of hate for this. But with that being said, it’ll be hard for even his most fervent of detractors to deny that Demetrious is deserving of respect for doing what he wants to do.
As the most successful champion in UFC history, he, perhaps more than anyone else, has earned the right to make this move and while we’ll have to move on from the prospect of rubber-matches and super-fights back in the UFC, his outings in ONE will no doubt be a treat – no matter who it is he fights.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena