Morning Report: Demetrious Johnson suggests UFC ‘don’t let flyweights main event’ after UFC 301

One of MMA’s all-time greats is conceding to his division’s reality.

Demetrious Johnson has done it all in the sport and is inarguably the best to ever fight at 125 pounds. “Mighty Mouse” set the all-time consecutive UFC title defense record at 11 before he parted ways for ONE Championship to claim 135-pound gold. At 37, Johnson is essentially semi-retired but still largely considered one of the very best fighters at present in either of his two divisions.

Johnson’s old title was on the line at UFC 301 this past weekend in the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil main event. The hometown champion Alexandre Pantoja sought his second straight defense against Australia’s Steve Erceg. Despite a competitive battle, “Cannibal” remained on top by earning a unanimous decision over his challenger. However, Johnson was disappointed with the build, or lack thereof, ahead of the event.

“Not every single fight card — not even in Bellator, PFL, ONE Championship, UFC, you name it — not every single one of them are going to be absolute bangers,” Johnson said on his YouTube channel. “Going into this fight, one, I want to start off saying that UFC didn’t even hold a f*cking press conference. Typically they always hold a press conference for pay-per-view events. This one, they didn’t. So, me and my producer were very shocked by that. Just not a whole lot of buzz surrounding this fight card.

“The biggest thing going into this: When flyweights headline a UFC pay-per-view, I’m one of ‘em, I headlined multiple UFC pay-per-views, was a champion for six years … It’s very frustrating when I think they have to just let the flyweights be a co-main event. Don’t let us be main event because we don’t drive enough buzz to, obviously, garner a f*cking press conference (laughs).”

UFC 301 was admittedly put in somewhat of an unfair position as the follow-up act to the historically stacked UFC 300 event this past month. It’s been widely speculated that UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira was originally in line to defend his title against the former titlist Jamahal Hill in the Brazil return. Instead, they wound up atop UFC 300 after a middleweight title tilt between the champion Dricus du Plessis and Israel Adesanya fizzled out.

Somewhat scrambled, the UFC called on the aid of Johnson’s fellow GOAT, Jose Aldo, to fight in UFC 301’s co-main event. He defeated Jonathan Martinez via a unanimous decision, but it seemingly wasn’t even enough to bolster intrigue from fans ahead of time, at least according to Johnson’s personal numbers. “Mighty Mouse” mentioned his Aldo breakdown video ahead of the fight which had 35,000 to 36,000 views on his channel while his prediction did 24,000 at the time of filming his post-fight recap.

Ultimately, Johnson doesn’t see any reason to keep flyweights atop a UFC PPV billing if it isn’t doing anything for them.

“Let’s talk about being a flyweight and now you have pay-per-view points,” Johnson said. “How do you expect a flyweight to make pay-per-view points, because if this card didn’t do over 200,000 buys, he ain’t getting sh*t. He’s going to get his base pay and that’s about it. That’s why it’s a very interesting thing.”

After Pantoja’s championship effort at UFC 301, he’s proven to be a formidable foe for anyone hoping to start their own title reign. There have been glimmers of hope for challengers, though.

Erceg, 28, had his fair share of success despite his title shot coming after only joining the promotion in June 2023 and winning three fights inside the octagon. Erceg did his fair share of damage throughout the five-round contest, and Johnson felt “Astro Boy” would have won the fight if it weren’t for some poor decisions made late.

“He literally just gave the fight away by trying to wrestle a guy who can’t box,” Johnson said of Erceg. “This is the biggest thing: I think it just comes from experience for Erceg — just not having experience of finishing someone when you know you’re beating the hell out of ‘em.

“End of the fight, great fight. I just feel — I think Erceg gave that fight to Pantoja. I think if Erceg stayed behind his jab, stop f*cking wrestling him, he would have been fine.”

In terms of UFC experience, it was a wash in favor of the champion, who’s been in the promotion since his arrival as part of The Ultimate Fighter 24 (TUF) in 2016. Since then, he’s only lost thrice and rides a six-fight winning streak (12-3 in UFC, 28-5 overall).

As one of the better game planners and strategists in MMA history, Johnson has shared his analysis aplenty this past year on his YouTube channel. Unsurprisingly, he’s let the audience see exactly how he became one of the most well-rounded fighters ever, if not the most well-rounded. Looking at Pantoja after this recent victory, the current ONE 135-pound flyweight king still sees work to be done.

“I was impressed by Steve Erceg,” Johnson said. “I honestly thought that Alex Pantoja was going to get his back and finish him. Steve Erceg was the better striker, he did way more damage in that fight. I think Steve Erceg just didn’t get going a lot sooner.

“He was destroying Alex Pantoja on the feet. Alex Pantoja was bloodied up. Yes, Steve was getting hit but those shots weren’t significant enough to make Steve worry about his stand-up. Then Steve would shoot a double leg against the better grappler, the better scrambler. That’s what I felt allowed Alex Pantoja to stay in the fight and win the fight. When I was watching the fight, I didn’t feel like Alex Pantoja was the better fighter. He’s the champ, but if you take him away from his grappling, you can take advantage of him.”


Next. Jose Aldo reacts to free agency, possibly skipping line to fight Sean O’Malley after UFC 301 win

Champ. Alexandre Pantoja reacts to UFC 301 win, ‘watershed moment’ in flyweight division

Grudge. Anthony Smith responds to Alex Pereira’s $50,000 challenge: ‘I’ll choke the sh*t out of him

Business. Conor McGregor may be BKFC co-owner, but Mike Perry still wants that fight: ‘I am my own boss

Challenger. Steve Erceg reacts to Alexandre Pantoja loss at UFC 301: ‘I just blew it

Title.I just didn’t see it’: Pros score Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg at UFC 301

Unexpected. Drakkar Klose explains UFC 301 beef with Daniel Cormier, calls out Beneil Dariush, Jalin Turner

Acrobatics. Michel Pereira responds to UFC 301 criticism: ‘That’s the risk, but I’m the risk-taker

Legendary. Shogun Rua announced for 2024 UFC Hall of Fame class

$$$. UFC 301 bonuses: Michel Pereira snags extra $50,000 for monster finish of Ihor Potieria


UFC 301 Post Show.

On To the Next One.

MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin chats with Mike Perry.

UFC 301 Post-Fight Scrums.

UFC 303 Teaser.

Shogun Fight Marathon.

Free fight.

Invicta 8 Subs.

O’Malley teases the sparring session.

Secret sparring?

Aspinall’s first baseball game.

Gilbert’s decade.

Behind Bangtao 2.


Get up and bounce your Monday away, gang.

Go to Twitter, use the #MorningReport hashtag, or find one of my tweets with it, and drop me a jam you’re currently really into. I’ll pick the best one alongside my daily choice and give you a shoutout! You can also share in the comments below — those are just harder to sift through sometimes!


Grasso in Brazil.

Rena’s return.

Group ice bath.

Lol.

Damn.

R.I.P.

Headed home.

Immortal.

Side-by-side.

AMAZING.

Vincenzo.

Prep.

Here we go.

Yeesh.


Oumar Sy (9-0) vs. Antonio Trócoli (12-3); UFC Vegas 92, May 18


I’m not going to argue against DJ on flyweight business moves. The man went through it worse than any likely ever will. However, I’m happy to see any title fight in the main event. That’s the whole point. right? UFC 301 was just a rare case overall, though.

Thanks for reading!


Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 42% of 404 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Should Dustin Poirier retire with a win over Islam Makhachev at UFC 302?

Thursday: 52% of 452 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Do you hope to see a Justin Gaethe vs. Max Holloway rematch at some point?

Wednesday: 73% of 514 total votes answered “No” when asked, “If Ilia Topuria fights Max Holloway next, will the BMF title be on the line?

Tuesday: 68% of 500 total votes answered “Alexandre Pantoja” when asked, “Who wins this weekend?” Pantoja defeated Steve Erceg via unanimous decision in UFC 301’s main event.

Monday: 56% of 364 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Will Colby Covington return in the summertime?

Today’s exit poll:

Poll

Do you want to see the flyweight title headline more UFC PPVs?

  • 0%
    Yes

    (0 votes)

  • 0%
    No

    (0 votes)

  • 0%
    Depends on the matchup

    (0 votes)



0 votes total

Vote Now


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