Demetrious Johnson may be undersized at bantamweight, but knows he has the ability to hang with the UFC’s elite.
Johnson (30-4-1) started out his career at 135 pounds, going 14-2 in his first 16 professional fights. Once the 125-pound division was introduced in the UFC, Johnson took over and defended his title 11 times to become the consensus greatest flyweight of all time.
After moving to ONE Championship in 2018, Johnson returned to 135 pounds and won the promotion’s grand prix. Although he suffered a knockout loss to Adriano Moraes, Johnson went on to submit muay Thai sensation Rodtang Jitmuangnon in a special rules bout in March.
Saturday’s UFC 273 bantamweight title fight features a title-unification bout between champion Aljamain Sterling and interim champ Petr Yan. When it comes down to skills, Johnson thinks he can put up a good fight with either man.
“I know I’m a smaller 135er, but I think skill set-wise, I think I can hang with guys like Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling,” Johnson said in an interview on Morning Kombat. “I know Adriano Moares can hang with those guys, too. They are definitely a lot, lot bigger, you know? I remember Aljamain Sterling said he walks around at 165 (pounds). I was like, ‘Sh*t, I can barely get over 142 and I’m having ribs and everything.’”
One of Johnson’s two losses in his first bantamweight run came to former WEC and UFC 135-pound champ Dominick Cruz, but “Mighty Mouse” never chased that rematch when they were both UFC champions in their respective weight divisions.
“Dominick Cruz is a great athlete, a great fighter, and I lost to him and learned a lot from that fight,” Johnson said. “I realized how much bigger the 135ers were compared to me in that timeframe. Even now, I think 135ers are so bigger for me. I’m just a smaller guy. I’m an in-betweener, like Matt Serra. He could make 155, but he was too small for 170, so he would go back and forth trying to find his way.”