Demetrious Johnson Issues Statement On UFC’s Mistreatment & Bullying

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Mandatory Credit: Tracy Lee for USA TODAY Sports

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is done with the way that the UFC and President Dana White has been treating him. Johnson is taking a stand against the promotion after the UFC’s “mistreatment and bullying” and having his character “tarnished.” Johnson recently posted a lengthy statement (on Discord, via Imgur) to air his grievances regarding his treatment and status in the promotion.

If you recall, White came out and said that he just can’t understand why Johnson would turn down the opportunity of fighting former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. Johnson, who is one title defense away from breaking Anderson Silva’s long-standing record of 10, would get a piece of pay-per-view revenue for the first time in his career if he fought Dillashaw.

Johnson has already stated that he is not interested in fighting Dillashaw after Dillashaw needed to find an opponent after his his bout with current bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt fell through due to Garbrandt pulling out of the bout with an injury. This led to the UFC pushing for Johnson vs. Dillashaw. Rather than fighting Dillashaw, Johnson simply wants to focus on the guys who fight full-time in his weight class. Prior to the UFC’s attempt to push the Dillashaw fight, Johnson was supposed to fight Ray Borg.

White called Johnson’s decision “insanity” during a recent appearance on the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast. Johnson finally responded, and in his new statement, he took aim at the organization. Johnson also suggested it was the UFC’s idea to fight Borg and not his. He also stated that he actually wanted to fight Garbrandt initially. Finally, Johnson claimed that a UFC matchmaker told him that the UFC believes that smaller fighters don’t sell and that White threatened to shut down his whole division if Johnson did not agree to their demands for a fight with Dillashaw.

You can read Johnson’s full statement here:

For years I have been a company man and kept quiet, accepting fights, doing as they asked, and always remaining humble and grateful for the opportunities provided to me through mixed martial arts. This is how I was raised through the sport. Unfortunately, UFC’s mistreatment and bullying has finally forced me to speak out. I’ve decided to speak out now as I feel like my values and character as a person and a fighter are being tarnished by an organization I’ve done nothing but sweat and bleed for over the last 7 years of my life. If it takes me speaking up and encouraging other fighters to ban together to start getting fair treatment, then so be it.

UFC Matchmaker Mick Maynard called and offered the fight vs Ray Borg. I thought (Sergio) Pettis was a more marketable name and on a longer winning streak. Mick went back to Dana, then came back and told us that I had no choice, it was going to be Ray Borg, not Pettis, and there were no other options. That was the command from Dana and company. This would mean that my only chance at ppv points at Flyweight was vs Ray Borg. I said OK, but it’s not fair to make that my only chance at ppv points, when Cody Garbrandt is saying he wants to come down and fight me at Flyweight, which was the fight I wanted. We told Mick that to be fair we would take the fight, but want ppv points for future fights at flyweight. Mick agreed and said it was fair and didn’t see any problem with that situation. Mick spoke to Dana and (fellow UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby who then told him to deny giving me any future ppv points for all of my future flyweight fights Further, I still had to fight Ray Borg and they were giving me no other choice. I accepted the fight with Ray and decided to deal with the unfair situation and despicable treatment by Dana and Sean after I succeed in breaking the consecutive title fight defense record in my next fight vs Borg. Mick thanked me for accepting the fight, knowing that I was being screwed over and mistreated by Dana and Sean.

I wanted a reason for not being allowed any future ppv points Sean Shelby called and told us how smaller fighters don’t sell, that UFC can’t make stars of anyone, and that a fight between Cody and I wouldn’t be a sellable fight. We disagreed. I think a fight between Cody and I would be popular if it was even given a small serving of the marketing efforts put into other big fights.

UFC has failed to market and promote me appropriately. Prior to my last fight where I tied the record for the most consecutive successful title defenses, we waited to repost UFC’s social media posts about me from their Facebook page. There weren’t any posts until a few days into fight week, then, there were a total of 2 posts. In comparison to others who they promote across their social media platforms, they failed to do their job in promoting me and that monumental event. In my recent conversations, Sean and Dana have confirmed UFC’s lack of desire to put any effort into promoting us.

In addition to the above, I want to address the lack of marketing and promotion of the Flyweight division, even though Dana will claim otherwise. I would challenge that the UFC doesn’t even market the division. It’s been 3 years since the UFC launched 3 new divisions in 2 years (2012 to 2014) where they focused most of their marketing efforts to grow female mixed martial arts, which I understand. But, we are now 3 years post launch, and the company continues to do the bare minimum in marketing the division well past the launch of these other divisions. As a fighter, I pay very close attention to the amount of marketing that goes into and around my fights and I can tell you that you’d be hard pressed to find much that has been done to promote me outside of TUF 24, which was minimal in comparison to other fights, fighters and shows. With me, the UFC chooses not to market the best fighter in the world and arguably the greatest fighter of all time. I can’t think of any other sports organization in the world that has the best player in the sport where the league, or the organization, doesn’t market that player to their loyal fan base to sell more of their product. Look at my track record for showing up to fights. Look at my track record of finishing fights. Look at my track record of getting fight night bonuses. Ask yourself if you think that if the UFC decided to truly put marketing dollars behind me that they couldn’t sell me or my fights.

Completely unrelated and after the accepted fight vs Ray Borg, Cody Garbradt injured his back and TJ Dillashaw said he wanted to fight me. Dana told me he wanted me to fight TJ, which I disagreed with for multiple reasons. First, TJ has never fought at Flyweight and is unlikely to make the weight, which would then eliminate the possibility of breaking the title defense record. Second, they have already told me that a fight between Cody and I wouldn’t be sellable, so fighting TJ would have no monetary upside . Third, TJ is not a flyweight or a current champion in another weight class and was KO’ed by the flyweight whom I beat twice already. Last, Ray Borg and I already agreed to the fight, which UFC tyrannically demanded, while denying me any future ppv points.

After telling Dana my reason’s, Dana angrily told me that I am fighting TJ, once again, with no other option or say so in my career, and against the plans we had previously laid out. He went on further to say that if I didn’t take the fight against TJ, and drop Borg as the opponent, he would get rid of the entire Flyweight division. He said this is for TJ and I’m taking away TJ’s opportunity. That fact that he feels that what I should do in my career is for TJ, tells where his priority lies. Sorry Dana, my career is about Demetrious Johnson and my goals of fighting the best current flyweights, breaking the record of title defenses, going after the bantamweight champion after I have broken the record, and making money for my family. My career is not about doing for Dana’s buddy who is neither a bantamweight champion or flyweight contender. We ended by disagreeing and left it there. The next day, Dana went to the media and announced that I was fighting TJ Dillashaw, in an obvious attempt to bully me in the media and tarnish my reputation. I posted a short statement letting people know that I had not agreed to the TJ fight, but had already agreed to fight Ray Borg, as demanded by UFC.

Dana put up an interview stating that it was “insane” that I didn’t want to fight TJ, that “he makes the matches and that is the match he is making”, and “you tell me why DJ doesn’t want to fight TJ”, trying to make it as though I am scared or ducking TJ Dillashaw.

Mick spoke to me to try to change the offer from Ray to TJ. I told Mick that I thought TJ should fight once in the division first, prove he can make the weight and get a win at that weight, then fight me if I wasn’t already busy with Cody. Mick agreed that it made the most sense.

Later, Mick called again as mandated by Dana, to try to make the fight with TJ and drop Ray. We told him that we didn’t think TJ would make the weight and the fight would be off since it would no longer be a title fight without TJ making weight. Mick said they guaranteed that TJ would make weight. We told him that since it was guaranteed by TJ and UFC was demanding and putting me in a bad circumstance, then it is fair that if if TJ didn’t make weight, the fight would be off and I would still get my guarantee + TJ’s guaranteed pay. Mick said that Ray would be on the card and he could fill in if TJ didn’t make weight. We said, oh, then which one do I train for? I thought TJ guaranteed he was making weight. Is it a world championship with the #1 pound for pound fighter on earth, or an amateur tournament where I don’t know who I’m fighting until I get there. Obviously there was no guarantee and they just wanted to push me to do something that they knew wasn’t a good choice for my career. The “guarantees” that they made had nothing to back them up and they were unwilling to give a real guarantee to compensate me for all the damage I put on my body preparing for a fight that may not happen. The fact that they said Ray will be a backup shows the lack of respect they have for what we go through in preparing for a fight at this level.

Mick went back to Dana and Sean, then came back and told us that they don’t agree with my request and I have to fight TJ with no guarantee to make weight or financial incentive if he doesn’t make weight. This is typical of the unfulfilled promises and bullying that has gone on through my UFC career.

In summary:

  • I agreed to their tyrannical demand to fight Ray Borg and Ray also agreed.

  • UFC has refused to give me ppv points on any future flyweight bouts, and has never given me any ppv points on previous bouts. My request was fair and the matchmaker in charge of the Flyweight and Bantamweight division agreed.

  • I gave UFC fair conditions to change the fight to TJ Dillashaw and they refused.

  • Dana and Sean have told me that they have no interest in marketing me or the smaller divisions, so when they say that I will make ppv money vs Dillashaw, they leave out the fact that I have to hit certain numbers of buys, which will not be hit if they fail in marketing me like they have in my previous fights.

  • If TJ doesn’t make weight, I can’t break the record for the most consecutive title defenses and they have denied paying me in that circumstance.

  • Dana has made an effort to bully me in the media as well as in private, in order to get what he wants, even though it is not what is best for me or the sport.

  • If Dana says this will be a big ppv fight for me, and that they will promote it properly, then he can pay for it up front and explain to Ray Borg why he is being taken out of the fight that the UFC matchmaker in charge of the division put him in. Otherwise, it is just another lie and attempt to bully me to do something that Dana wants, but is not the right thing to do for the sport or my career.

  • UFC’s track record in making an effort to promote my fights, and Dana’s claim that this is a big chance for ppv dollars for me tells a different story than what Dana is stating to the public.

 
  • Juan Diablo

    I don’t see what the problem is here- DJ aired dirty laundry to play the victim which is lame sht. He wanted Sergio who is nowhere near ready for a title fight, even worse than Borg. It’s obvious he doesn’t want a challenge and what his true intentions are. Dana SHOULD scrap that division because it is severely watered down. When Dana does scrap it and a lot of guys lose jobs, now they will know they are jobless because DJ didn’t want a challenge. DJ looks like the shthead here

    • JamesC

      Fighting is risk vs reward. Cody beat a guy who DJ lost to, so its high risk. Now the worst part that everyone is forgetting is this….the fights would be at 125 so he doesnt get the reward of being a two weight champ. But at least Cody is a standing champ so he can say he beat the standing champ. That is probably the most disrespectful part of all of it. Imagine if Eddie Alvarez would have been given a chance to fight Connor at 145. What do you think Connor would have said?

      TJ vs DJ would be a great fight, but he may get literally nothing out of it. TJ is just some guy he has no belt. He hasnt even made weight yet. So for DJ, No more money, no extra belt, he may not break record if TJ doesnt make weight. DJ spelled out he was willing to take those risks but he needed some sort of reward. Otherwise he will go with the sure thing in Ray Borg. Sure thing in that the money is certain and he will make weight.

      • Juan Diablo

        His reward is people finally tuning in to watch him fight and building his brand and his division not being scrapped. He can either fight TJ at his home weight, or he can fight him at TJs weight after 125 is scrapped because no one cares about it since its watered down. It comes down to this- do you want home field advantage or not?

        • JamesC

          You are looking at it backwards. Its not your fault. The UFC is doing DJs career backwards. Usually, you do stuff so people can see you for the purpose of positioning yourself for bigger opportunities. Those bigger opportunities are usually a higher ranked opponent so eventually you can get closer to a title fight. Then you can get that PPV money when you become champ.

          Well with DJ he does not need exposure for a title fight. He is already the champ. The thing that matters is money and legacy. IF he fights TJ under current terms he will just have missed an opportunity to make money. There are not that many big name fights for him. He has already done a bunch for cheap (Segudo, Benavides, McCall etc). To take a fight of this nature without getting more is just a lost opportunity.

          If 125 is scrapped that might be the best case scenario. DJ could then go to Bellator and bring ALL of the 125er there. He would make more money in endorsements. Dude is already endorsed by XBOX. They will pay him more if he could actually wear his stuff in the ring. Having the best fighter on the roster would be a plus for Bellator and I think they would put that Viacom marketing money behind him. Not to mention it would make Dana a huge jerk to scrap an entire division because one guy doesnt want to take a particular fight.

          • Juan Diablo

            I understand the post and I could see how you would feel this way but he’s too good for the rest of the guys there. That is no fault of his own, but it is the reality of that division. They need to scrap 125, but don’t think the best guys will go to Bellator, the UFC will move them up and let them sink or swim. These guys got contracts and they can’t just leave, they have to take their fights in the UFC or retire. Dana is not a huge jerk for making a business decision, you are letting your emotions get in the way man. It’s a business that has the right to do what is best for their bottom line, let’s be real here.

        • JamesC

          One more point. DJ is NOT playing the victim. He never said he was a victim. He gave a very good timeline of events. He is just not going to let Dana manipulate him and degrade him publicly. White aired dirty laundry by saying “he will fight him” and “good thing he isnt the match maker etc”. DJ is doing the exact opposite of playing the victim. He is clearing his name and empowering himself with facts. He is taking control of his career. A victim would have taken the fight and then complained about it.

          • Juan Diablo

            How is “he will fight him” dirty laundry? The inner workings that DJ shared is dirty laundry in my eyes. If he doesn’t want to let the promoter tell him who to fight then he can drop the damn belt. This isn’t the DJ Fighting Championship, he fights who the promoter tells him to fight. The fact is that he isn’t a draw so he can have a tall glass of stfu. I appreciate that you love DJ, we all do, but he doesn’t bring numbers bro. Numbers bring power, and DJ has now power in this sense.

          • JamesC

            The fact that he isn’t a draw is because the UFC doesn’t promote him. DJ does everything on his end. He stays clean, stays active, puts on exciting fights. If the UFC can’t figure out how to promote DJ they aren’t doing their job as promoters. Champs get to decide who they are going to fightoften. I could give endless examples. You can’t give one example of a guy getting a title shot without ever making the weight. Dj has more power and he is using it right now.

  • JamesC

    DJ is 100% right and laid it out perfectly.

    Its interesting that Bisping gets to fight whoever he wants. That Conor fights whoever he wants. Meanwhile T-Wood and DJ are forced into fights that are not marketable or profitable.

    The only thing I disagree with (and I am not even certain we would disagree with) is that TJ vs DJ would be VERY marketable if nothing else more marketable than the snooze fest of DJ vs Borg. On the other hand. It doesnt sound like they are going to pay him so what difference does that make to DJ.

    So the UFC would rather him fight TJ for essentially the same money as Borg, no PPV points. Possibly either have him switch opponents last second or fight nobody at all if TJ doesnt make weight. Lets assume DJ beats Borg or TJ. The difference is that he risks not having an opportunity to break the record. Will get paid the same no matter what. Btw…if he beats TJ people will say its cuz TJ was not use to making the weight.

    To make matters worse they wont give him the Cody fight. That is just horrible especially when compared to Connor. So Connor beat a longtime champ and didnt have to defend or rematch before getting to fight an unestablished champ. Meanwhile DJ has beaten EVERYONE and is almost too dominant with contenders left and you cant pay him PPV points and let him go for a belt. C’mon man

    • aFriendlyAgenda

      “So the UFC would rather him fight TJ for essentially the same money as Borg, no PPV points.”

      TJ is the most marketable fight for him next.
      In fact theres nothing else at 125 that anybody has ever heard of thats going to sell better then even a midpack guy from the higher weight classes.

      But he should definitely be compensated for it.
      Theres no self righteous glory towards being “the best” and all that romantic stuff the way img-ufc degrades the belts like a pony show popularity contest.

      Its all about the money.
      Why should the fighters worry about anything other then that when img-ufc isn’t worried about anything other then that.

  • ShawnKarr

    Good on DJ for standing up to White and the ufc.
    Imo, he’s the second best p4p after JJ. He’s a hell of a fighter, proven his worth with results. He shouldn’t have to bow down uncle Dana to keep his job nor should he have to be a white guy with a big mouth in order to be well compensated. That should be based on his skills.
    It’s funny to see an aerobic instructor and a bunch of keyboard warriors implying he’s a coward.

    • iberian warrior

      Exactly, dana’s only experiance in the fitness world was his time as a an aerobics instructor. He personally tells how he was an amatuer boxer and a boxing coach, but there is no evidence of this. However, there is plenty of evidence of his aerobics career. The fat pig is a waster

  • Adam Richard Corrigan

    Well said DJ. If they gave him half a percent of the promotion of nobodies like Northcutt he would sell big, the guy is the best all round martial artist in the promotion.

  • You don’t bite a hand that feeds you. Fighters are there to fight and bring joy to an audience that ultimately pays them. He thinks he’s on a position to make demands but he’s just one loss from losing it all. That’s why he doesn’t want to fight Dillashaw but want to get an easy win

    • Brocoli JinderMania Cangrejo

      No you dont pay him and he doesnt owe you anything, he earns money for his hard work dedication and abilities and if they dont promote that and dont care about his career he has the right to speak his mind

      • He is getting paid by the UFC, right? And where does the UFC takes money from? From us. We pay they directly by PPV and tickets and indirectly by all the sponsors and advertisers who wants to pay for our attention. It is not about him personally, the same goes to Conor McGregor and some other fighters

        • JamesC

          You are talking as if they are slaves that must bow to whims of the masters. I mean you could make the same arguments for slaves. The masters feed them so they must do what is told. No. They have a choice. The choice of speaking out has pros and cons. The choice of not speaking out and being undercompensated has pros and cons.

          • No, they are not slaves. They are free men and they chose their path of career. They are a professional fighters and they get paid for what they’re doing. Their job is to fight, to show people their skills in the arena, to entertain the crowd. Is it physically demanding? Yes it is. Is it risky? Sometimes it may be (still not as risky as crossing a street in Shanghai :-). That’s why are compensated for their effort. I haven’t seen any fighter being actually chained to the cage. And I haven’t seen any fighter signing a contract with a gun pressed against his head. All of them were quite happy to sign it. They’re not slaves, they can always quit and choose a different promotion (many did instead of complaining, kudos to them) or get a regular 9 to 5 job, right? It’s not that I’ve got something against Demetrius personally cause this complaining is becoming like a common thing in the UFC these days.

    • JamesC

      NO!!! Fighters are there to make a living for themselves and their families. They are people not things. You are right…every fighter is a loss or even worse, an injury from their career ending. That is why its important that they get compensated when they can. He is in a position to make demands…he is the champ and p4p best….if he isnt…who is?

      He doesnt want to fight TJ because he wants to get compensated and doesnt want to risk not fighting or fighting a new opponent last minute because TJ has NEVER made 125 nor fought their successfully.

      Here is the other big thing. This offere should have never been made. TJ isnt a champ and Cody is a former champ. THe real offer should have been for DJ to go up to 135 where he has something to gain. At 125 from a legacy stand point TJ would have been just another guy. Does anybody care that Aldo beat Florian? No!!! Ironically, Florian and any other guy you can think of who came down to fight had to fight at that weight first before getting a title shot (Florian, Pettis, Sanchez, etc). Especiallly given that in all those cases the first performance at the new weight was subpar

    • Allen Eltor

      What kind of fucking trash are you people at EMT that you’d say such a DIPFUCK thing.

      He’s a RECORD CHAMPIONSHIP DEFENDER.

      He’s being SHIT on.

      Everytime I see you say something I wonder where the F**** some of you people grow up.

      • Hey

        I’ve trained in Thailand and I know how those guys train and fight. A lots of Muay Thai champions had more just a title defense fights than Demetrius had pro fights in total. The don’t complain or pick their opponents they just fight. True warriors. Lots of champs retire after having 200 or ever 250 pro fight under their belts in their late 30’s. I just got a different perspective and I can see it more clearly.

        • JamesC

          This is a bad example because their fights dont earn ppv and those guys retire broke. Which is exactly what do us avoiding

  • Allen Eltor

    HOW the FUCK has HE been NOT getting PART of the PROCEEDS of the GATE as CHAMPION of

    A N Y

    fucking

    D I V I S I O N?

    It’s Jim Crow class business. I’ve come to DESPISE the UFC.