Former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson has his thoughts on how UFC flyweights should approach the business side of fighting.
Johnson was traded to ONE Championship in 2018 as part of the UFC’s acquisition of Ben Askren. He went on to win his first three fights in ONE and earned the then-vacant bantamweight title over Danny Kingad in Oct. 2019.
The UFC’s flyweight division was thought to be on its last leg just a few years ago but has resurged due to stars such as Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. During his reign as the flyweight champion, Johnson didn’t see eye to eye with UFC President Dana White when it came to negotiations.
During a recent interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Johnson gave his perspective on the planned Figueiredo vs. Moreno fourth fight and why Figueiredo might want to consider other matchups.
“Yes, it makes a lot of money sense for the UFC, and maybe for the athletes, too,” Johnson said. “I know how the UFC contracts are structured, so whether Brandon Moreno fights Figueiredo or Kai Kara-France, I’m sure he’s probably gonna get the same pay. Them boys ain’t gonna get pay-per-view points. They never gave flyweights pay-per-view points. Don’t act like y’all getting 800,000 pay-per-view buys.
“You’re better off fighting Kai Kara-France or Pantoja,” he continued. “And then if you get that, boom. You get your show and your win, so you probably make $250K. Then, you might be in the escalator, so you fight another one.
“That’s another $250K, so you just made $500K. And now, you fight for a world title, then you get your $30K Reebok sponsorship.”
Johnson then explained how UFC flyweights like Figueiredo could position themselves in a better financial position in the long run.
“At the end, you’ll be like, ‘Hey, I got two fights in my contract. You know what? I don’t want to re-sign. I want to fight this one. I believe in myself.’ You go out there and fight, and let’s say you win the belt, next thing you know you’re in a great position.” (h/t Bloody Elbow)
Figueiredo has walked back his recent interest in the fourth fight with Moreno after he accused his rival of racism. Moreno has denied the accusations and says that Figueiredo is attempting to duck him.
The fourth fight between Figueiredo and Moreno has yet to be formally booked, and Johnson thinks Figueiredo may want to consider exploring his options. After the 125-pound division was once seen as an afterthought, Johnson thinks now is the time for fighters such as Figueiredo to get an advantage in contract talks.
What are your thoughts on Demetrious Johnson’s comments?