The pound-for-pound debate is one that always gets mixed martial arts fans clashing in opinion. However, it’s notably interesting whenever former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is involved in the conversation.
“Mighty Mouse” dominated the 125-pound division for over six years before losing his title in a razor-thin split-decision loss to Henry Cejudo last year. It was his first defeat since 2011 and just his third overall in a career that currently spans 33 fights.
He would later depart the UFC for ONE Championship where following three victories in 2019, he has already been crowned the promotion’s inaugural Flyweight Grand Prix champion. He is now set to face current ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes in an attempt to win gold in two different promotions.
For many, such as UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, Johnson is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. However, others don’t see things that way given his level of opponents at flyweight.
But what does Johnson think of his own standing and legacy in the sport?
“I will say I will go down as one of the greatest ever which means there is going to be more people,” Johnson said on ESPN’s FAIR GAME recently. “For me to say ‘oh, I’m the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, I’m better than Jon Jones, I’m better than this person’…I think that brings a little cockiness.
“Overconfidence as one person would say. For me, I start to think to myself, I hope, fingers crossed, I hope when my time comes that people will look back like ‘man, he was probably one of the best to ever do it but he definitely is up there.'”
That’s not to say Johnson isn’t confident in his abilities. After all, it has led him to victory in 90 percent of his fights so far.
But at the end of the day, he feels he needs to believe he’s not the best so he can always strive to be better.
“I don’t tell everybody what’s going on in my mind,” he added. “Of course, I believe in my skill-set. Is it fair for me to say that my skill-set is beyond everybody else’s in the world? I don’t know. I haven’t fought everybody in the world.
“I think that’s what makes me so great and what makes me strive better — I always think that there’s somebody out there who’s better.”