Demetrious Johnson is taking a lap back to 2017 to explain why his widely requested fight against TJ Dillashaw never came to pass.
By 2017, the UFC’s flyweight division was synonymous with Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. The wins came so easily for him in one title defense after the next that he made his opponents look levels beneath him. With Johnson all but having cleared out the division, the UFC and many of its fans started looking at the next weight class up for someone new to present Mighty Mouse with his biggest challenge: T.J. Dillashaw.
Former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw was on board with the fight, UFC President Dana White was on board with the fight, and the fans were on board with the fight. But what about Johnson himself? Contrary to popular belief, he, too, was on board with the fight—under the right conditions.
“Well, see, the whole TJ Dillashaw thing, we gave our demands if we were gonna do the TJ Dillashaw fight. And one of the demands was: If he couldn’t make weight, 125, then we get to fight at 135 for his belt, and I think we were gonna get some of his purse,” Johnson explained on a recent installment of The MMA Hour. “And the UFC was like, ‘No, no, no. We can’t do it.’
“Because me being an athlete, I knew when TJ cuts to 135, he’s already shredded. Already shredded. And I knew if he cut to 125, he couldn’t do it healthy, and I just knew he couldn’t do it. And he’s proven that he’s made the weight, but he couldn’t do it healthy, and he popped for that fuckin’ EPO drug, whatever he was doing. And I talked to him about it, too. He was like, ‘Dude, I wanted it so bad.’”
Dillashaw’s USADA Failure Vindicates Johnson’s 2017 Concerns
Johnson is referring to the 2019 USADA suspension of TJ Dillashaw for EPO in connection to the lone flyweight bout of his career against Henry Cejudo. This incident gave vindication to Johnson and his concerns, which he also detailed back in 2017 when he accused Dana White of attempting to bully him into accepting the fight.
Johnson went on to explain that fans do not understand all that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to making a fight. So when White claims a fighter just doesn’t want to fight, they often take his word for it and fail to consider the business side of things.
Johnson then shared more details about his recent run-in with Dillashaw, where they had a light, yet honest chat about Dillashaw’s 2019 run-in with USADA.
“I was like, ‘Damn, dawg, why’d you do it?’ He was like, ‘Dude, I wanted to make 125 so bad. I would wake up in the morning and I would just be exhausted. So I started taking this stuff, and it just helped me bounced back.’ So I give him respect by him just being straight up,” Johnson said.
Demetrious Johnson has been competing in ONE Championship since 2019. His next fight will be a mixed-special-rules fight against Rodtang Jitmuangnon on December 5.
Who do you think is more to blame for the Johnson/Dillashaw fight never happening: Demetrious Johnson or the UFC?