Demetrious Johnson has looked as close to unbeatable as anyone since dropping to 125 pounds. He’s the current UFC flyweight champ and will defend his belt Saturday at UFC on Fox 8. A dominant fighter can usually draw a crowd, but would Johnson losing the belt be the best thing for the UFC and the flyweight division?

The initial answer for many people is yes. Johnson hasn’t finished anyone since Damacio Page at WEC 52 in 2010. Since then it’s been a handful of decisions and a loss to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Johnson’s first trip to 125 pounds provided some excitement when Ian McCall made things interesting in the final round and did enough to have the judges score it a majority draw. Outside of a few glimpses of hope from opponents of “Mighty Mouse,” it’s been 10-9 every round for the champion.

Johnson currently sits in second in average fight time inside the Octagon, placing him only behind lightweight champion Benson Henderson, who has come under scrutiny for “point fighting” as well. Even Johnson’s opponents think he’s boring.

“I think he’s boring…He just bounces around…He runs around too much. He doesn’t fight. He doesn’t put on exciting fights. He’s got a lot of technique and a lot of skill, but he doesn’t finish people, I don’t feel.”

Those were the words from Johnson’s opponent at UFC on Fox 8, John Moraga. The title challenger isn’t alone in his opinion, and fans were particularly upset at “Mighty Mouse” following his bout against Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152. The boos filled the arena that night and Twitter lit up with fans complaining about a lackluster fight. The backlash forced UFC President Dana White to back his newly crowned champion in typical DW fashion.

“I was reading Twitter tonight and these people were ripping on the flyweights,” White ranted. “If you didn’t like that flyweight fight, please, and I’m begging you, don’t buy another UFC pay-per-view again. Don’t ever buy another one again; I don’t want your money. You’re a moron, you don’t like fighting and you don’t appreciate great talent or heart if you didn’t like that flyweight fight.”

Although White likely went overboard with his defense of Johnson, he’s missing the point when it comes to criticism of the flyweight champ. Nobody can argue that he’s a talented fighter, that’s pretty obvious from the level of competition he’s faced and defeated. What they’re criticizing is the fact that Johnson doesn’t elicit enough excitement for fans to tune in. Watching his bout against Benavidez, it’s clear that “Mighty Mouse” was/is the better fighter in the division, but at what point did Johnson look like he ever attempted to do more than score points? Arguably the only time fans cheered in his recent title defense against John Dodson was when the challenger began to land some offense on the champion.

It’s also a product of Johnson being so dominant that many fans naturally want to see the underdog win. Many will be hoping for this to happen when Johnson meets Moraga at UFC on Fox 8, and it could be very productive for the flyweight division. The division itself has grown very stagnant among MMA fans and hasn’t exploded in popularity like UFC officials were hoping for. It’s very telling that the flyweight division has been around for over a year and has yet to headline a major UFC card. Heck, the women’s bantamweight division took only one pay-per-view to accomplish that feat.

Johnson has beaten (and beaten soundly) nearly every top contender in the division right now. If “Mighty Mouse” pulls off another title defense against Moraga, is there really anything left for him at flyweight? Outside of a rematch with Benavidez, there are very few credible challengers and big-time fights out there for Johnson. The same can be said of the flyweight division itself. If Johnson were to drop the belt he’d likely get an immediate rematch, but even if it’s only for one fight, the division would at least have some excitement going forward. The door would be re-opened for all the guys Johnson has defeated if he were to drop the belt to Moraga this Saturday. It also wouldn’t hurt promotional value that Moraga has two impressive finishes to his credit since joining the UFC’s ranks.

Many fans are predicting another 25 minutes of “Mighty Mouse” controlling the action for a unanimous decision victory. They’re likely right. Johnson seems to be a cut above everyone at 125 pounds. But many fight fans, and perhaps secretly the UFC, will be hoping Moraga eats his Wheaties and is able to topple the seemingly unbeatable champ.

Photo: UFC Flyweight Champ Demetrious Johnson (courtesy of Esther Lin)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.