Photo: Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC [Getty Images]
Some call him the perfect fighter, and while that might sound hyperbolic to some, it may not be too far from the truth.
Demetrious Johnson will put his undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight crown on the line in a rematch with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo in the UFC 227 co-main event this Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. “Mighty Mouse” already holds the promotion’s all-time record for the most consecutive title defenses with 11. Johnson, 31, has not fought since he submitted Ray Borg with a spectacular armbar at UFC 216 in October — a finish that earned him “Submission of the Year” honors and extended his career-best winning streak to 13 fights.
As Johnson barrels toward his second encounter with Cejudo, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. His successes are rooted in small-town America.
The idea that Madisonville, Kentucky, a small town of less than 20,000 people on the western side of the Bluegrass State, could produce one of the greatest fighters of all-time seems unlikely at best. Yet, that is where you will find Johnson’s birthplace. The city also gave rise to the late Frank Ramsey, a 6-foot-3 guard who was part of seven NBA championships with the Boston Celtics.
2. His dues are paid.
“Mighty Mouse” spent the first three years of his professional MMA career hoping his skills before sparse crowds on the regional circuit. He won his first 10 fights, eight of them finishes, while competing inside the AX Fighting Championships, USA Mixed Martial Arts, Genesis Fight Night, King of the Cage and Alaska Fighting Championship promotions.
3. Numbers help illustrate his story.
Johnson is a statistical marvel. Just spend some time on FightMetric. He ranks first all-time among Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweights in total fight time (4:14:12), significant strikes landed (978), significant strike accuracy (56.9), strike differential (2.10), strikes absorbed per minute (1.75), total strikes landed (1,557) and takedowns landed (57).
4. Opponents who engage him on the mat do so at their own peril.
Few possess the tools necessary to tangle with Johnson on the ground. He has delivered 11 of his 27 career victories by submission: five by armbar, three by rear-naked choke, one by guillotine choke, one by kimura and one by keylock.
5. He has mastered his domain.
Johnson has never lost a fight at 125 pounds, with both of his career defeats coming at bantamweight. Since making the flyweight division his permanent home in 2012, “Mighty Mouse” has compiled a 13-0-1 record and defeated 11 different opponents: Cejudo, Borg, Wilson Reis, Joseph Benavidez (twice), John Dodson (twice), Tim Elliott, Kyoji Horiguchi, Chris Cariaso, Ali Bagautinov, John Moraga and Ian McCall. They have a combined record of 196-65-2, which equates to a .745 winning percentage.