Profile: Demetrious Johnson was signed by Zuffa about two years too soon. Entering the WEC as a bantamweight, he was massively outsized in all of his bouts, and dropped his debut to Brad Pickett for his first career loss. Johnson reeled off a four-fight win streak between the WEC and UFC however, and earned a bantamweight title shot, a massive accomplishment for a fighter who isn’t even a big flyweight. He gave champion Dominick Cruz trouble at times, but was outwrestled to a decision loss.
While his career was already looking up based on his run at bantamweight, the best news for ‘Mighty Mouse’ was just around the corner. The UFC decided to create a flyweight division, and Johnson would be in the inaugural four-man tournament to determine a champion. His semifinal against Ian McCall was not without controversy, and Johnson benefited from truly terrible work from the New South Wales Combat Sports Authority to escape with a draw. His rematch with McCall was a far different fight, and Johnson advanced to face Joseph Benavidez for the title at UFC 152.
After capturing a close split decision against Benavidez to win the title, Johnson never looked back. Despite being stunned early in his first title defense against John Dodson, Johnson recovered to take a fairly dominant decision. He finished four of his next five title defenses by stoppage, including a massive knockout of Joseph Benavidez. A second victory over Dodson meant that Johnson had beaten the consensus number 2 and 3 flyweights twice each. With Johnson running out of challengers in a still nascent division, some challengers were forced to title shots against him (Kyoji Horiguchi), while others looked like they never belonged in the cage with him (Chris Cariaso and John Moraga). Given his pedigree, some expected Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo would trouble Johnson in a manner reminiscent of Cruz, McCall, and Pickett, but the champion once again proved his greatness. In less than three minutes, Johnson’s dominant clinch game dispatched that challenge as well, bringing him to eight consecutive title defenses.
Last Fight: UFC 197 – Win (TKO1) over Henry Cejudo