Q&A: Demetrious Johnson talks video games and the end game

Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson is the reigning UFC flyweight champion. He has successfully defended the belt a record-equaling ten times and this Saturday (September 9) looks to go one better than Anderson Silva (the former middleweight champion who also boasts ten defences) with a victory against Ray Borg at UFC 215.

Ahead of the fight, the gifted Johnson took time out to answer the questions of Fighters Only contributor Tony Reid.


Question: Is there anything nobody knows about you?

Demetrious Johnson: There are a lot of things people don’t know about me. I grow my beard out and shampoo and condition it. I treat it like it’s the hair on the top of my head, because I don’t have any hair on my head. I’m always playing with it with my tongue. My wife is like, “Do you want me to cut it off?” Of course I’m like, “No, no.”

Q: What advice would you give to a younger you?

DJ: I tell younger kids that aren’t into sports to stay in school and go to college. I might tell my younger self that but I just don’t like school. I would tell a younger me to stop wearing hats and try to save your hair, stop cutting it and see what happens.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory from an earlier fight?

DJ: Traveling to Alaska and fighting professionally for the first time. I fought Jesse Brock. I knocked him out. It was just cool traveling for the first time as a professional athlete. I loved it. They had all kinds of ice sculptures in Alaska and things like that.

Q: What is your career highlight to date?

DJ: Just being able to be a dominant champion and stay healthy. I like to look at that as a highlight in my career. I am pretty active as a champ and I am still the same guy I have always been. I’m down to earth. I’m just trying to pay these bills, man.

Q: Do you prefer a knockout or submission victory?

DJ: I like submissions because you make them tap out you make them quit. It’s either, dude, I’m going to break your arm or you are going to quit. When you knock someone out you obviously have to catch them and hit them with something they didn’t see coming. But when you make somebody submit they knew they got caught. They know they have to tap out, have something break or pass out. I like the conscious decision to make the guy quit.

Q: Who is the best opponent you have faced so far in your career?

DJ: I would say Dominick Cruz. The reason I say this is because he is very good in every aspect of mixed martial arts, not just one area. He can wrestle, he can strike, and he has great footwork. In that 25 minutes when we were in the cage we were back and forth, he took me down, he had my back, almost choked me out, and he gave me a haematoma. We were just going back and forth. I would have to say that was my toughest fight.

Q: How do you get pumped before a fight?

DJ: I just relax. I talk to my coaches. I crack jokes. I just go out there and do my thing. I hear the music hit and I calm myself down. I get into the Octagon and hear Bruce Buffer say “It’s Time!” (Demetrious does his best Bruce Buffer impression.) I’m like, Bruce I’m trying to get ready to fight!” (laughs). Once he’s done I get out there and in the first two minutes that’s when I finally get warmed up. You can break a sweat in the back and get that first wind out but there is a lot of downtime. At least ten minutes of being cold out there in the Octagon. You took your shirt off. You are nipping. It’s like, man, it’s cold out here.

Q: If you could invite three guests to dinner, past or present, who would you invite?

DJ: I would pick The Rock – that would be fun. I would pick Kevin Hart as number two and then pick someone who is f**king weird. I would go with Zach Galifianakis.

Q: What is the best life lesson you have been handed?

DJ: I guess you could say you always have to have an exit plan. I was at the Super Bowl a few years ago and met a lot of professional athletes, retired players and a lot of guys that played 10, 11, 12 years in the NFL. They are like 32 or 33 and now they are trying to figure out what they are going to do for the rest of their lives. It’s like, holy shit, you played ten years in the NFL and now you are trying to figure out what you are going to do for the rest of your life? I’m the champion. If I retire at 32, there is a lot of life to live. I always think about the end game.

Q: What was the first video game system you remember having as a kid?

DJ: The first video game system I had as a kid was the original Nintendo.

Q: Have you always been a gamer?

DJ: Oh yeah, I have always been a gamer. I played games as a kid and I was playing a few games on the way over here to the hotel.

Q: What were some of your favorite games growing up?

DJ: For the original Nintendo I loved Snake Rattle ‘n Roll and the original Zelda. I wasn’t a big fan of Zelda the Link 2. For Super Nintendo I liked Super Mario Brothers, Demon’s Crest, Super Metroid and Star Fox. They were all great.

Q: Did you ever get into any sports games?

DJ: No. I was such an active kid when I was growing up. When my wife and I talk she says I just stayed inside, that I was sheltered and just played video games all day. I’m like, “What are you talking about? We went outside and f**king played manhunt and soccer, and when it got dark we went inside and ate dinner and then played video games.” I guess it’s the fact I played outside all day… why would I want to come inside and play fake football? I just played football outside all day. I was always playing sports outside so I turned my attention to other games.

Q: If you could be any character from any video game who would you want to be and why?

DJ: Isaac Clarke from the Dead Space series. That would be badass.

Q: What three games would you take to a desert island?

DJ: I would bring Resident Evil, Gears of War – actually that’s risky because that would get old really fast – and Chrono Trigger.