Demetrious Johnson Calls for End of Flyweight Division over T.J. Dillashaw Fight

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2017

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 15:  UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson poses for a post fight portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at Sprint Center on April 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson would rather see the company do away with the entire division than fight T.J. Dillashaw.

"They said it's either TJ or we close the flyweight division," Johnson said Monday on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting's Shaheen Al-Shatti‏). "And I said, 'Close the motherf-----g division then.'"

In a pair of tweets May 23, Johnson stated he had no desire to fight Dillashaw and instead wanted to take on Ray Borg:

Demetrious Johnson @MightyMouseUFC

Just so the world know I haven't agreed to anything still waiting on my contract to fight @tazmexufc not @TJDillashaw if he wants a title

Demetrious Johnson @MightyMouseUFC

Shot he can come to flyweight and get a win then get his turn

UFC President Dana White was critical of Johnson's stance, calling it "insanity."

Johnson offered his side in a statement to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani. In addition to his frustration over being told Dillashaw was White's preferred opponent for him, Johnson has taken issue with UFC's promotion of the flyweight division as a whole:

"In addition to the above, I want to address the lack of marketing and promotion of the flyweight division, even though Dana will claim otherwise. I would challenge that the UFC doesn't even market the division. It's been three years since the UFC launched three new divisions in two years (2012 to 2014) where they focused most of their marketing efforts to grow female mixed martial arts, which I understand. But, we are now three years post-launch, and the company continues to do the bare minimum in marketing the division well past the launch of these other divisions."

Johnson is smart to force UFC's hand.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden and MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas tweeted Johnson's situation isn't a first-time occurrence within the UFC:

Luke Thomas @lthomasnews

Tenured MMA media have heard stories like DJ's (to varying degrees of severity) for years.

In his statement to Helwani, Johnson described himself as the "best fighter in the world and arguably the greatest fighter of all time." He's not far off in his assessment.

He's the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter on ESPN.com and in the UFC's official rankings. With his victory over Wilson Reis in April, Johnson also tied Anderson Silva's record for most consecutive title defenses (10) in company history. He's the only person in the UFC to hold the flyweight title.

Alienating Johnson to the point he'd be prepared to see the dissolution of the flyweight division isn't a great look for the UFC given the questions about whether the company is heading for a decline through a series of self-inflicted problems.


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