Demetrious Johnson Says Winning Grand Prix Belt is a Career Goal

By Cole Shelton Aug 27, 2019
Demetrious Johnson will be fighting for the One Championship flyweight grand prix title next time out when he takes on Danny Kingad on Oct. 13. For "Mighty Mouse" he is just one win away from not just becoming the grand prix champion but earning a title shot as well. To fight for the belt was not his focus initially but now winning it certainly is.

"I wouldn't say it was my main goal but it was a goal I had in my career. Just watching Pride and Dream and them having the grand prix, you fight through a bracket and you get a sweet ass belt," Johnson said to Sherdog.com. "We are just seven weeks away from that. I am super excited. It is something I never thought I would be able to do in my career. So, to get the chance is awesome. I saw the grand prix belt and it is one of the sweetest belts I have seen. You can't get unless you are in a tournament. Then, possibly get a chance to fight for the flyweight belt."

When he does make the walk to the cage, it will be his third time in 2019 and the third time under the One banner. To fight this often was not the original plan. "They gave me a choice of how many times I want to fight a year. I would like to do two times, they said well you can fight as much as you want," he explained. "When you are fighting only three rounds it is not as hard on my body. I have been enjoying doing the 15-minutes. But, I need to get used to just three rounds and can't have slow starts. Being a champion in the past doing 25-minutes you go a slower pace." Although he only wanted to fight two times this year, he is fine fighting three. However, Johnson says win or lose he will take the rest of the year off and look to return in March.

Meanwhile, a major adjustment "Mighty Mouse" has had to deal with is not having his longtime coach, Matt Hume in his corner. Hume, of course, works for One Championship so it rules him out from coaching Johnson. So, for the former Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight champion, he is still trying to figure out what Hume would say to him during fights.

"It has been an adjustment and I am still adjusting," Johnson said. "When we watch our fights he opened my eyes to stuff I don't see. He just makes me understand that I need to understand what is happening the fight while the fight is on."

For now, Johnson is just focused on training and preparing for his upcoming fight against Kingad. They share common opponents in Tatsumitsu Wada and Yuya Wakamatsu, yet Johnson doesn't focus on that. "We haven't studied Danny yet. But, we looked at Wada and Wakamatsu fight against Danny Kingad," he explained. "Obviously, we all have different skillsets and I am looking forward to seeing how I match up against him."

One challenge the former UFC flyweight king will face when he fights Kingad is the size. Johson is 5'3", while the Team Lakay product is 5'5". Yet, "Mighty Mouse" knows this will be a challenge in all his fights given he is now fighting at 135-pounds but accepts it as he no longer has to deplete himself to make flyweight.

"I love it. I am smaller height-wise, being 5'3" but it is what it is. I'm at the point of my career where I am about winning fights and putting on great fights," Johnson said. "I was a champion for six years. If I become a champion again, fantastic. I don't put stress on me for being short in the division. Just performing in front of the Asian fans. I walk around closer to 135 than most athletes. In North America, the tallest guy I would face is maybe 5'5". Here everyone is taller."

In the end, Johnson is just eager to compete once again in front of the Asian fans and showcase his martial art skill. Despite that, he makes it known the talent he is facing is still top-level, regardless if he isn't in the UFC anymore.

"I could have said that even if I was in the UFC. That is just the nature of the beast in competition. Anyone can lose to anybody," he explained. "Kyoji Horiguchi just beat Darrion Caldwell twice then just starched by someone who isn't known to North American fans. If you take Kai Asakura against Henry Cejudo, you don't know who is going to win.

"The thing is, like oh this guy is the best pound-for-pound because he fights in North America, or fights 'better' competition is literally bulls--- in my personal opinion," said Johnson. "I have been at the top of the pound-for-pound list but you can't put a ranking on somebody because you never know who will win the fight. But, if you do it by skillset then I can see it but you can't say this person is better than him because he fights in the UFC and this guy doesn't. You can't judge competition unless everyone has fought each other."

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