Q&A: Demetrious Johnson says “It’s not about title fights anymore”

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has the chance to break Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive UFC title defenses on Saturday (October 7) at UFC 216. To do so he must overcome the challenge of Ray Borg.

Ahead of the eleventh defense of his UFC flyweight belt, Johnson took some time out to answer the questions of Fighters Only contributor Tony Reid.


Question: What are your thoughts on Ray Borg as an opponent and how do you see the fight playing out Saturday night?

Demetrious Johnson: Ray Borg is a tough guy who comes from a great camp. Greg Jackson is a great coach with a lot of great fighters training underneath him. Ray Borg is tough. We will see what happens. I am looking forward to getting in there and mixing it up with him.

Q: What does it mean to you now that the UFC title defense record is in reach?

DJ: It would mean a lot. I am chartering into unchartered territory. I feel like f**king Captain Spock from Star Trek. I’m going to a place no man has ever gone before.

Q: Have you ever spoken to Anderson Silva about the record or anything else?

DJ: I have not. The only time I ever spoke to him was when he said, “Hi. What’s up?”, at UFC 126. That’s it. It was a very long time ago.

Q: You signed with First Round Management and Malki Kawa recently. He said that after the Borg fight they will be looking for big money fights for you. What kind of fights do you have in mind?

DJ: I have no idea. We will be more focused on getting big fights. A lot of people don’t understand that a lot of the champions and big fighters make most of their money on these big mega cards. For example, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been on the Conor (McGregor) and Ronda (Rousey) cards. I’m pretty sure she has made millions from being on those cards. It’s not about title fights anymore. It really isn’t. It’s whether or not you can get on the big cards. It’s a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s what I think Malki wants to focus on: trying to get me on big cards. Down the road, if there is a big fight opportunity and the money is right, then we will make it happen.

Q: Malki mentioned working on a new deal for you as well, even though there are a few fights left on the current one…

DJ: Yeah, absolutely. I just want to be on the same level as all the other champions. I have been a champion for five years going strong. A lot of these champions make $500,000 flat. My pay is not there yet. I feel like I deserve to be up there with those guys. I have put my time in. You hear guys saying, “I deserve a title shot. I put my time in. I am on a five fight winning streak.” Well, I put my time in as champion. I’m on my eleventh title defense. I have been the champion since 2012. It’s f**king overdue. You have guys that have just become champion getting $500,000 flat. My ass started at $30K/$30K, then $125K/$125K, and now I’m at $370K. I’m trying to get to tat $500K mark.

Q: Having voiced your displeasure about being considered for a potential fight with T.J. Dillashaw, you then cleared the air with Dana White and the UFC brass. Was that important for you moving forward?

DJ: Yeah, at the end of the day, there was a lot of good communication. That’s one of the reasons we brought in Malki Kawa, so we could get the communication lines open and get on the same page. All that drama and bulls**t is behind us now. Now we are looking forward to make some great fights happen. We have number one contender Ray Borg fighting for the championship and that’s how it should have been to begin with.