To say it’s been a turbulent week for UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson would be an understatement. On June 05th, DJ posted a lengthy diatribe showcasing what he believes is bullying by his employer and specifically, its President Dana White.
In reading the post, many will not be surprised by its overall depiction, but perhaps may be alarmed by it’s contents. I’ve heard many a story about how negotiations have gone with the UFC and how sour they can become should parties cross Dana White.
As discussed on yesterday’s ‘Holy Smokes Podcast’, White’s demeanor can go from jovial to hot-headed in the blink of an eye. Get to know the man on a somewhat personal level, and you can easily understand why he is this way.
We can play devil’s advocate for both sides of this argument, but should one’s personal opinion to judge and make a final decision on whose side to take on this one, I would hazard to guess the vast majority would lean towards Johnson.
His grievances stem from being forced to fight Ray Borg for his next title defense, one that would eclipse the record for most title defenses in UFC history. DJ accepted but was then told he would be fighting TJ Dillashaw instead.
Johnson took umbrance with this for a variety of reasons. Namely because he wanted to fight Sergio Pettis first, but the UFC said it would be Borg. Then Dillashaw, to which part of Johnson’s counter offer was that it was time for the organization to pay him pay per view points. He also had issues with TJ as an opponent because Dillashaw has never made 125 lbs, and if he does not, the record Johnson is seeking would not be had. So perhaps the UFC should compensate him financially for this.
Back and forth they went to the point where White allegedly got the message across to the champ that he was going to scrap the whole division, effectively eliminating Johnson and all flyweights from competing in the octagon. To wit, Johnson basically called his bluff and simply hinted to go right ahead.
As we continue to move forward in this current era of MMA, what is slowly happening is that fighters are beginning to speak out against the UFC and White, especially once they have a few dollars in their pockets. Heck, even Max Holloway, who just defeated Jose Aldo Jr. on Saturday night to become the promotion’s new featherweight champion, called out Dana for monetary consideration.
Let’s not forget that even Dillashaw was apart of the late 2016 announcement of the creation of a fighter's association. He was joined by Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez and Donald Cerrone and Tim Kennedy. Many other fighters were brave enough to speak out and applaud the effort.
Now we have Johnson, Holloway and pretty much Conor McGregor doing the same thing. Slowly, whether they know it, the upper echelon of fighters who have made some money, are beginning to band together (even if it’s not in the literal sense) to stand-up to perceived mistreatment by the organization.
For Johnson and the flyweights, they have options outside of the organization. Many of which may pay them more per bout and ones that will allow them to procure sponsorships again. They may not get pay per view points, but financially speaking, they may be better off.
There was once a time when these athletes feared speaking publicly about mistreatment from the organization, and behind closed doors, the UFC would either ease their pain, or perhaps make things worse.
At this current time, no fighter is bigger than the UFC. Not Conor McGregor, not Georges St-Pierre, not Ronda Rousey. The UFC PR Machine would crush them in a public relations battle. But together, they can all change the course of history, but standing up to White and the current practices of the organization.
It may not happen anytime soon, but this trend is slowly beginning to pick up more steam in what seems like a monthly manner.
For fighters who feel voiceless and fear repercussions for speaking out over any strong arming by the UFC, times appear to be changing. While it’s been discussed for many years, the trending of these situations has me strongly believing that there is a massive change now coming, sooner rather than later.