December 5, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale: Demetrious Johnson Approaching Legend Status, But Drawing Ability Still In Question

By Adam Martin

With Jon Jones on the sidelines following a USADA violation and subsequent suspension, UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson has taken over as MMA's #1 pound-for-pound fighter. Following his unanimous decision victory over Tim Elliott at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale, "Mighty Mouse" is currently on an 11-fight win streak, and overall he is 13-1-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming to UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and his draw coming against Ian McCall. Other than those two blemishes, Johnson has been unstoppable, with an undefeated 11-0-1 record at 125 lbs proving he is far and away the best flyweight in the world and no one is even close.

Not only is Johnson the top P4P fighter in the world currently, he is quickly closing in on legend status in what is almost certainly going to wind up a Hall of Fame career.

With 11 wins in a row, Johnson tied Royce Gracie for the fourth-most consecutive wins all-time, one behind Georges St-Pierre, two behind Jones, and five behind Anderson Silva. With GSP essentially retired and Jones suspended, Johnson could very well pass Silva for that record in the coming years, particularly if he decides to stick around at 125 lbs, a division he's been utterly dominant fighting at.

In addition, Johnson is now tied with GSP and Jones for second all-time at nine consecutive title defenses, which is just one behind Silva's UFC record of 10. Again, if Johnson continues to stay at 125 he could not only break Silva's record, but completely shatter it since he's only 30 years old and seems to keep getting better every time we see him fight.

The more Johnson keeps winning, and the more records he breaks, the higher he will move on the mythical MMA Mount Rushmore structure. The fact he's already in the company of names like GSP, Silva, and Jones is remarkable, and when it's all said and done he could join fighters like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Fedor Emelianenko in the group of the sport's all-time greatest legends.

Having said all of that, and Mighty Mouse deserves all the praise he can get, there's one big problem he has, and that's that despite winning all of these fights, Johnson is not a draw. His pay-per-view numbers were so bad that the UFC has decided to essentially make his title a TV belt, or at best a co-main event on a PPV headlined by a star, and while Johnson has said that doesn't bother him, looking back in 20 years from now, his legacy is that he's going to be remembered as a great fighter who fans didn't want to pay to see. It's unfortunate, and Johnson has done everything he can to remove the "boring fighter" label he might have had a few years ago, but for whatever reason the fans just don't seem to care about him as much as other top fighters in the sport's P4P ranks.

The good news is, Mighty Mouse still has time to turn things around and become that big draw. Remember, for a time Silva wasn't much of a draw despite winning; that was until Chael Sonnen came around. Maybe Mighty Mouse needs a rival that can get him to that next level, like Silva needed Sonnen to do. Sadly though, it's hard to see anyone becoming that guy, unless someone like TJ Dillashaw drops down a weight class or someone new comes along.

Either way, Johnson is the best fighter in the sport, and when it's all said and done, will likely be among the sport's all-time greatest fighters if he keeps winning. He's certainly already in the conversation. Now, let's see what he can do to prove any doubters he still has wrong.

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