In this installment of the MMA Archives, we revisit Demetrious Johnson sharing his side of the story for why he didn’t agree to fight T.J. Dillashaw in 2017.
One of the big “what if” fights in UFC history is that between Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and T.J. Dillashaw. Johnson and Dillashaw are two of the best ever in their respective divisions, and fans were clamoring to see Johnson face a new challenge at flyweight after being overwhelmingly dominant for so long.
However, the fight never came together, much to the disappointment of Dillashaw, the UFC, and MMA fans around the world. After losing his flyweight title to Henry Cejudo, Johnson was traded to ONE Championship for Ben Askren, thus effectively killing off any hopes of the two greats clashing in the UFC, at least for the time being.
After Dillashaw tested positive for EPO in 2019, Johnson gave his reaction to the news. The former flyweight king was unsurprised, not because he suspected Dillashaw of foul play but because the failed test was not unusual MMA news in his humble opinion.
And last October, we ran a story of Johnson providing an updated, more thorough explanation for why he and Dillashaw never fought one another.
Johnson is currently scheduled to compete against ONE Flyweight Champion Adriano Moraes in a rematch this August. As for Dillashaw, the latest news around his return has him as the most likely next contender to face UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling.
In the below article published on this day five years ago, Johnson opened up on why his fight with Dillashaw didn’t happen in 2017 while also accusing UFC President Dana White of “despicable” treatment.
On This Day Five Years Ago…
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JUNE 5, 2017, 8:37 AM]
Author: Fernando Quiles Jr.
Headline: Demetrious Johnson Speaks Out On Dana White’s ‘Despicable’ Treatment of Him (2017)
Demetrious Johnson has grown tired of how the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) treats him.
“Mighty Mouse” is the reigning UFC flyweight champion. He is on the verge of breaking Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive successful title defenses in the UFC. He’s also the pound-for-pound best fighter in all of mixed martial arts (MMA).
Despite the accolades, Johnson isn’t feeling the love from the promotion that he’s fought under for years. In a statement released to MMAFighting.com, Johnson said he had no other choice but to fight Ray Borg at first:
“UFC Matchmaker Mick Maynard called and offered the fight vs. Ray Borg. I thought [Sergio] Pettis was a more marketable name and on a longer winning streak. Mick went back to Dana, then came back and told us that I had no choice, it was going to be Ray Borg, not Pettis, and there were no other options. That was the command from Dana and company. This would mean that my only chance at PPV points at flyweight was vs. Ray Borg. I said OK, but it’s not fair to make that my only chance at PPV points, when Cody Garbrandt is saying he wants to come down and fight me at flyweight, which was the fight I wanted.”
Johnson said he had no problem taking the Borg fight, but he wanted PPV points going forward. Instead, he had those points revoked.
“We told Mick that to be fair we would take the fight, but [we] want PPV points for future fights at flyweight. Mick agreed and said it was fair and didn’t see any problem with that situation. Mick spoke to Dana and [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby, who then told him to deny giving me any future PPV points for all of my future flyweight fights. Further, I still had to fight Ray Borg and they were giving me no other choice. I accepted the fight with Ray and decided to deal with the unfair situation and despicable treatment by Dana and Sean after I succeed in breaking the consecutive title fight defense record in my next fight vs. Borg. Mick thanked me for accepting the fight, knowing that I was being screwed over and mistreated by Dana and Sean.”
The madness doesn’t stop there. After agreeing to the Borg fight with no PPV points, “Mighty Mouse” said the UFC then tried forcing him to fight T.J. Dillashaw.
“Completely unrelated and after the accepted fight vs. Ray Borg, Cody Garbrandt injured his back and TJ Dillashaw said he wanted to fight me. Dana told me he wanted me to fight TJ, which I disagreed with for multiple reasons. First, TJ has never fought at flyweight and is unlikely to make the weight, which would then eliminate the possibility of breaking the title defense record. Second, they have already told me that a fight between Cody and I wouldn’t be sellable, so fighting TJ would have no monetary upside. Third, TJ is not a flyweight or a current champion in another weight class and was KO’ed by the flyweight whom I beat twice already. Last, Ray Borg and I already agreed to the fight, which UFC tyrannically demanded, while denying me any future PPV points.”
Johnson then went on to say White tried to bully him into taking the fight with Dillashaw, going as far as to threaten removing the entire flyweight division.
“After telling Dana my reasons, Dana angrily told me that I am fighting TJ, once again, with no other option or say in my career, and against the plans we had previously laid out. He went on further to say that if I didn’t take the fight against TJ, and drop Borg as the opponent, he would get rid of the entire flyweight division. He said, This is for TJ and I’m taking away TJ’s opportunity. That fact that he feels that what I should do in my career is for TJ, tells where his priority lies.”