Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it.
While “The Bluegrass State” may not have produced an overwhelming number of top-flight mixed martial artists, it was the birthplace of an all-time great. Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight titleholder and pound-for-pound mainstay Demetrious Johnson was born in Madisonville, Kentucky, on Aug. 13, 1986. He later moved to Washington, joined forces with Matt Hume at AMC Pankration and honed his otherworldly fighting skills.
“Mighty Mouse” quickly ascended on the regional circuit before signing with World Extreme Cagefighting in 2010. From there, Johnson made the move to the UFC and challenged Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight crown on Oct. 1, 2011. He lost a unanimous decision and then dropped to 125 pounds, where he still has never been defeated.
Johnson captured the inaugural UFC flyweight crown with a split decision over Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152 and has since defended it eight times against the best possible opposition: Benavidez, John Dodson (twice), John Moraga, Ali Bagautinov, Chris Cariaso, Kyoji Horiguchi and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo. It seems no one at 125 pounds can touch the 29-year-old dynamo, which is why talk of a rematch with Cruz continues to swirl.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Junie Allen Browning, Jessamyn Duke