John Locher/ AP In this Dec. 3, 2016, picture, Demetrious Johnson, right, battles Tim Elliott throughout a mixed martial arts flyweight bout in Las Vegas. Johnson will once again defend his flyweight title against Brazilian Wilson Reis in the main event at Sprint Center, the first time the UFC has ventured into Kansas City.
Saturday, April 15, 2017|2 a.m.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Demetrious Johnson had actually simply completed an open workout on a muggy spring afternoon when the UFC flyweight champion was inquired about the remarkable haul of title belts he has generated for many years.
Did that ever set off a diatribe.
In tirade that was half-serious, half-joking, the man nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” explained he just has one championship belt in your home. Every time he’s safeguarded it, nine times and counting, the UFC straps a belt around his waist following the fight, then takes it away when press obligations are total.
“You understand exactly what? I’m getting pissed off about this,” Johnson said with a smile. “I saw (light heavyweight champion) Daniel Cormier had 3 belts, so WME, IMG, whoever the owner is signing the checks now, provide me 8 damn belts, please.”
Or possibly nine come Saturday night.
Johnson will again protect his flyweight title against Brazilian Wilson Reis in the primary event at Sprint Center, the first time the UFC has ventured into Kansas City. And if Johnson is successful, his 10 defenses would match the UFC record held by long time middleweight king Anderson Silva.
“You know, I’m a company man,” Johnson stated, when again using his perpetual grin. “I come and battle and if they take the belt away from me, peace. That’s it. Today I have actually seen these guys with 3 belts, and I have actually just got one– and I need to share it with my two kids.”
The only 125-pound champion in UFC history, Johnson (25-2-1) is riding an 11-fight winning streak that consists of excellent knockouts of Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo. He beat Kansas City’s own Tim Elliott, who will be combating Louis Smolka on the undercard, in his latest defense in December.
Now, he handles a Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert riding his own four-fight win streak.
Reis was expected to fight Johnson for the title at UFC 201, however a series of events beyond his control scuttled the possibility. He wound up fighting on the undercard, then won once again, to lastly earn a shot versus the fighter numerous consider the very best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist worldwide.
“Whatever in my life happens for a reason. I’m an extremely favorable person,” Reis said. “I understood it should not be last July, that’s why it wasn’t, so I simply kept my composure, trained every day, worked hard. I didn’t know when it was going to be, one battle, two battles, 3 battles, however I understood I was getting there.”
Reis (22-6) didn’t hesitate when asked whether Johnson is the very best fighter worldwide, explaining that the champion hasn’t lost in more than five years. However when faced with the same question, Johnson was only going to put himself in the same category as the elites, rather than at the top of the load.
To get to that point, it might take numerous more title defenses.
“It’s like Usain Bolt, no one is ever going to beat his record,” Johnson said of the Jamaican sprinter, whose Olympic medal haul has put him in rarified business. “However Twenty Years from now, 30 years from now, there might be another fast person who smokes that. So I’m going to keep fighting. It might be 15 (defenses), it may be 16. Whenever my body burns out, I’ll hang it up.”
By that point, Johnson may lastly have all those belts the UFC owes him.
“If I’m successful Saturday, I’ll take the belt home and give me 8 more,” he said. “Something Floyd Mayweather Jr. did, he has a photo of all his belts, and Andre Ward did it too. I think it would be cool if I might recreate that image.”
The co-main occasion of the Fight Night card on FOX features a strawweight battle between fourth-ranked Rose Namajunas and sixth-ranked Michelle Waterson, both of whom have some history in Kansas City.
Namajunas’s first three pro fights came for the all-female Invicta company in 2013, prior to she became a family name on the Ultimate Fighter reality TELEVISION program. Watterson likewise fought three times for Invicta in Kansas City, winning and defending its atomweight championship several years back.
However there is more on the line for both as the UFC makes its debut in the City of Water fountains: The winner stays in title contention, the loser might be entrusted to a long road back to the top.
“It’s constantly a breath of fresh air when you can concern a place with familiarity, and that’s what Kansas City seems like,” Waterson said. “The airport feels familiar, the street sounds, the smell of barbecue. That’s exactly what it seems like. And every time I have actually fought in Kansas City, I have actually won.”