Demetrious Johnson and The Great GOAT Debate

After tying the record for UFC Title Defenses, Flyweight Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has just about forced us to debate where he belongs in The Greatest Of All Time debate.

DJ is aligned himself with the likes of Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, while on the outskirts we have the likes of Jose Aldo Jr. and Fedor Emelianenko. For arguments sake, I will focus more on the career highlights of Johnson, ‘The Spider’, ‘GSP’ and ‘Bones’.

Taking a look at the opponents Johnson has defeated, we see the names of Wilson Reis, Tim Elliott, Henry Cejudo, John Dodson (twice), Kyoji Horiguchi, Chris Cariaso, Ali Bagautinov, Joseph Benavidez (twice) and Ian McCall (1-0-1). His only two blemishes have come via decision to Brad Pickett and Dominick Cruz at a weight class above his current division. It should be noted that DJ has 15 finishes on his MMA resume.

In examining Brazilian Anderson Silva’s career, we see victories over Stephan Bonnar, Chael Sonnen (twice), Yushin Okami, Vitor Belfort, Demian Maia, Forest Griffin, Thales Leites, Patrick Cote, James Irvin, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin (twice), Nate Marquardt, Travis Lutter, Chris Leben and more. His victories over Bonnar and Griffin were a weight class above his normal middleweight career. Anderson has 26 finishes on his resume and currently, 8 defeats.

Moving on to Canadian Georges St-Pierre, his victories include names like Johny Hendricks, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, Jake Sheilds, Josh Koscheck (twice), Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves, BJ Penn (twice), Jon Fitch, Matt Serra (1-1), Matt Hughes (1-1), Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg … and many others. Georges has 12 finishes to date but in the times he was defeated, he was also finished. He has never competed outside of welterweight but will do so in his next bout, a middleweight title fight vs. champion Michael Bisping.

Then there’s the curious case of Jon Jones, who has wins over Ovince St.Preux, Daniel Cormier, Glover Teixeira, Alexander Gustafsson, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson, Mauricio Rua, Ryan Bader, as well as Stephan Bonnar. As it stands now, Jon only has one defeat, a controversial one to Matt Hamill, who he was dominating at the time of his disqualification via illegal elbows. In terms of finishes, Jon has 15 on his record and has also never competed above or below 205 lbs. Mind you, when his career is all said and done, he may go up to heavyweight at a future date.

When we compare DJ’s opposition to the other three names in this GOAT debate, there is a sense that the caliber of opponents does not match up with the other candidates. Perhaps this is simply due to the fact (taken from the stats within the book ‘Fightnomics’) that the average male body fits more in the lightweight and welterweight divisions, thus forcing the quantity and quality of opposition to increase and simply be at a higher caliber.

If the argument is based solely on quality of opposition, DJ’s case still needs some more elements to be added to it. In my opinion, he is right there, but there is still so much more to this debate that needs to take place before I can personally select who the true GOAT is.

DJ will likely surpass the record he just tied. Anderson Silva (in a weird kind of way) may actually find himself in a MW title fight. Georges St-Pierre could further his case with a win over Bisping and perhaps challenge Conor McGregor for the lightweight title one day.

As for Jones, he may regain the light heavyweight title later this year and perhaps one day, capture the heavyweight crown.

The bottom line is this … there are still a variety of unanswered questions we will likely get the answers to over the next few years. Until then, the debate of who The GOAT truly is can wage on and on until we can eventually come up with our own majority decision.

But as it stands right now, ‘Mighty Mouse’ still has some work to do to add this ultimate title to his long list of already garnered accolades.