Just like the 1980s cartoon character his nickname stems from, Demetrious Johnson (a.k.a. “Mighty Mouse) may be small but he packs a big wallop. Johnson has a ton of heart, determination, and courage packed into his 5’3″ frame. Numerous opponents have underestimated the Kentucky native based on his diminutive stature and have paid the price for doing so.
Combine all of that with his speed, striking, and wrestling prowess, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a fighter. Now that the UFC is on the verge of introducing the all new flyweight division, Johnson finally has an opportunity to fight guys his size.
The 25-year old has been making his living these past few years fighting in the bantamweight division where he often had no need to cut weight in order to make the 135-pound mark. Even more amazing, Johnson was extremely successful fighting bigger opponents. As a result, Johnson challenged the current UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz this past September for his title. However, no pun intended, but Johnson came up a bit short, dropping a five-round Unanimous Decision.
Still, with an impressive 14-2 record Johnson has proven time and time again that the bigger man doesn’t always come out on top. Before the loss to Cruz, Johnson had won four fights in a row including victories over former WEC title-holder Miguel Torres and former Japanese superstar Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.
Friday night on FX Johnson will take to the Octagon where he’ll face Ian McCall in the opening round of the UFC’s flyweight tournament. “Mighty Mouse” is brimming with anticipation in terms of finally fighting at his natural weight in addition to competing in Australia.
“I’m really looking forward to this fight, it’ll be the first time that I’ll be fighting internationally,” said an excited Johnson in an exclusive interview with Fighters.com. “It’s a new weight class and I know the fans have been looking forward to the debut of the flyweight division and it’ll be interesting to fight in front of the Australian fans. I’m really excited about going down there and putting on a great show.”
UFC fans are pretty familiar with Johnson from his three bouts inside the Octagon and his three bouts in the WEC. However, as far as McCall is concerned, some fans may not know about his style or his background as he’ll be making his Octagon debut after a ton of success on the regional scene. One thing is for certain when you get two guys with this much talent inside the cage together there is going to be fireworks.
“The thing I know about McCall is that he is a great fighter,” offered Mighty Mouse. “He comes in to fight in great shape and he’s a very tough opponent. There’s a reason he’s ranked number one in the world in the flyweight division. I’m not sure who has the advantage in any certain areas; I just plan on going out there and doing my thing. I plan on putting his skills to the test and seeing what he’s made of.”
In the other semi-final bout former bantamweight championship contender Joseph Benavidez will take on Shooto champion Yasuhiro Urushitani. Benavidez is probably the stronger of the two with a solid wrestling base, but as far as Urushitani is concerned it’s hard to gauge what type of fighter he is after competing in relative obscurity in Japan. Nevertheless, Johnson seems to have an idea of who he will face should he get by McCall.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight between those two,” offered Johnson. “I don’t really know a whole lot about Urushitani, but from what I know he’s been the champion in Shooto for awhile and has done quite well over there. He’s coming in to the UFC and this is going to be his second fight outside of Japan. Benavidez is a tough guy and everyone says he’s undefeated and Cruz as his only two losses came at the hands of Cruz. It’s going to be a great fight.”
Because Johnson has had so much success fighting in the bantamweight division, and with the flyweight division just getting started, it may not be surprising to see him jump back and forth between divisions. That is, of course, unless Johnson believes there will be enough challenges for him at 125 pounds.
“As of right now 125 is my home,” Johnson said. “I would love to fight in the bantamweight division again as well. It would be fantastic to fight in both weight classes. It all depends on whether or not I win or lose my fight coming up, but for the time being the flyweight division is where I’m at and I consider it my new home.”
Assuming the two winners come out of their respective fights fairly healthy, it will be interesting to see how quickly the UFC gets the title bout signed. Normally three months would be enough time for the fighters to train for one another and for the UFC to put their marketing machine into effect. In that vein, Johnson is confident the promotion will do the right thing and will be ready when the time comes.
“They haven’t given us any indication of then the championship fight will take place,” revealed Johnson. “If I’m a betting man I would day the best card to put it on would be UFC 148 in July. That card will be headlined by the third fight between Cruz and Urijah Faber. Other than that I haven’t heard anything else. That would give us four months after this fight on Saturday. What better way to introduce the new flyweight champion than by having it on the same card as the bantamweight title bout?”
Beyond that, the UFC will be looking to add some fresh talent to the newly created flyweight division in the upcoming months to challenge the fighters they already have on board. In fact, the organization has already scheduled some fights between other bantamweight fighters making the drop down. As such, Johnson is excited about the potential match-ups he has awaiting him in his new home.
“You already saw Darren Uyenoyama and John Dodson signed to fight one another at UFC on FOX 3 this coming May,” said Johnson. “I think you will see a lot of guys making the move to 125, there aren’t any other guys that I know of yet, but I’m sure that will all work itself out in the weeks and months to come. I think this weight class is going to take off and as long as the UFC promotes us correctly we will be just as popular as any other weight class.”
Fans can catch Johnson-McCall mix it up on FX tomorrow night with the broadcast starting at 9:00 PM EST with prelims on Facebook/Fuel TV beginning at approximately 5:30 PM EST. The UFC on FX 2 card is headlined by what should be a welterweight war between Thiago Alves-Martin Kampmann.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC