Saturday night on Fox broadcast network, Demetrious Johnson tied Anderson Silva’s record with ten straight title defenses with a victory over Wilson Reis. Since then, the MMA community has been praising the accomplishment by the nearly consensus best Pound for Pound fighter in MMA.
Dana White addressed whether Demetrious is already the Greatest Of All Time at the post-fight press conference. “This kid could be considered the GOAT right now,” he said. “Or to give Anderson Silva the true respect, you wait until he actually breaks the record.” He said as for active fighters in their prime, he’s established as the best. “He’s already the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, and he strives to be better each time. And he gets better each time, literally destroying people.”
On FS1’s Fight Night Post-Show, Fox UFC analyst Brian Swann said Johnson is as technically sound as anyone he’s ever seen. “In my eyes he is [the best of all-time],” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone as technically proficient as him. And I’ve watched all the tape. To stay this focused and this dedicated this long is unheard of. It has taken time to get the respect from the fans. Finally, this crowd, he owned it tonight.”
Dominic Cruz said Johnson’s strengths were on display. “Johnson fought a perfect fight tonight,” he said on the FS1 Fight Night Post-Show. “He was landing the combinations, then circled to the weak side, so there’s no way Reis can counter. He then picked him apart slowly.”
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier said he could tell when Reis realized he was fighting an opponent at a whole new level. “Early in the fight, Wilson tried to take the fight to Demetrious, but he realized he was in there with The Man,” he said on FS1. “Demetrious slowly started to beat him up. Slowly and slowly, he got it. The timing of DJ’s takedowns are the best. DJ outclassed that man today. The way that he softened him up was surgical. He was so efficient. It’s like he’s moving at another speed.”
Referee “Big” John McCarthy wrote on Twitter: “How is it people are not flocking to see [Demetrious Johnson] fight? The man is amazing!! Don’t ever let a fight of his go bye without tuning in.”
How is it people are not flocking to see @MightyMouseUFC fight. The man is amazing!! Don't ever let a fight of his go bye without tuning in.
— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) April 17, 2017
Watch highlights of the fight HERE.
Keller’s Analysis: Regarding the Greatest Of All-Time argument, I think you judge that on more than just consecutive title defenses. You consider quality of opponents, pace of fights, style of victory (dominant vs. controversial or close), advancing the style, etc. He ranks well in those categories. As for McCarthy’s comment about Johnson’s drawing power, this is something UFC could do a better job with. I think this about all of their events. They should do more than just show fighters in the crowd watching. They should take cues from WWE in this way, putting video packages together just touting the star power of fighters throughout the year so that by the time they’re selling the fans on a particular fight, the next layer of fans underneath the ardent hardcore MMA fans are more familiar with their personality and feel more invested in them. UFC should be putting together videos showing how awesome and exciting MMA can, with a particular focus on fight highlights and the emotional highs and lows of the game. Video footage of Demetrious celebrating wins, and his opponents suffering the agony of defeat, is something UFC just doesn’t do, and it’s something they could easily do. Some fighters don’t need UFC to be promoters; they can sell fights just by having a camera pointed at them three weeks before a PPV. Other fighters need UFC to be promoters and work harder to make sure the large mid-core fanbase that makes the difference between a low end TV rating or PPV buyrate and a mid-level one are more invested in fighters like Demetrious who are great in the Octagon, but don’t jump off the page personality-wise or fight-highlight-wise.