Mighty Mouse’ Not Intimidated by Main-Event Moment
Not long ago, Demetrious Johnson quit his day job in construction to focus on fighting for a living. On Saturday, he will get a shot at the bantamweight crown when he takes on champion Dominick Cruz in the UFC Live 6 main event at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
It is clearly the biggest stage of the diminutive fighter’s career, but “Mighty Mouse” claims he does not feel any added pressure.
“I just look at it like any other fight. It’s a great opportunity that the UFC has given me, and I’m gonna try to take full advantage of the opportunity,” Johnson said during a pre-fight teleconference. “It’s gonna be a hard fight, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not psyching myself out. I just gotta go out there and be the best man on [Saturday], go out there and perform.”
The AMC Pankration product also knows the risk involved with going all-in with his cagefighting career, but he is at peace with the potential consequences. He believes training on a full-time basis has only made him stronger.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing if it helps. I say it’s helped my training camp, and I can push my body [to] extra levels and not have to go to work all sore,” he said. “[Losing is] always in the back of my head. You know, I can go out here and get absolutely destroyed [against Cruz], fight again and get knocked out, fight again and get destroyed again, and next thing you know, I’m fighting in Titan [Fighting Championship] or whatever.
“Who knows? I might be back in the warehouse somewhere,” Johnson added. “I’m just grateful to be a full-time fighter. I’m gonna go after that title, and what do I got to lose? People don’t even know who I am. I’m just gonna go out there and try to make a name for myself and just take it to him.”
Johnson is not likely to be driving a forklift anytime soon. After dropping his World Extreme Cagefighting debut to Brad Pickett, he has reeled off wins over Nick Pace and Damacio Page in the WEC and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and Miguel Torres in the UFC. His controversial decision victory over Torres vaulted him into title contention. Despite breaking his leg in the bout, the Kentucky native believes the judges’ decision was justified.
“I wish I hadn’t broke my leg because I was beating him in the standup,” Johnson said. “I made an adjustment, which was to put him on his back. Sometimes, I passed guard. When he was on top of me, he just held me. Whenever I got a chance to reverse him, I reversed him. I won the standup and the wrestling. Jiu-jitsu? I don’t know.”
Should Johnson fail to solve the puzzle that Cruz’s striking presents, a move to 125 pounds could be imminent. The UFC is expected to add the weight class sometime in 2012, and Johnson’s frame is thought to be better suited for that division. He says he feels a kinship with current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, another fighter who many felt would be more effective at a smaller weight class. In Edgar’s case, the move to featherweight never happened.
“I see me in the same boat as Frankie Edgar, how we’re both small guys. I like it that way,” Johnson said. “I want to fight in this weight class for as long as I can. If I go out there and lose and they come out with 125, maybe I can do that.”