Demetrious Johnson details how the UFC would pay fighters based on their social media traffic

Demetrious Johnson details how the UFC would pay fighters based on their social media traffic

Demetrious Johnson was one of the UFC’s most dominant athletes when the promotion was still finding its footing in the world of social media.

‘Mighty Mouse’ is considered by many to be one of the P4P greatest fighters in the sport’s history, scoring 11 consecutive title defenses — a UFC record that may very well stand the test of time. But despite all of his accolades, Johnson never brought home the paychecks like that of other champions during his legendary run.

Demetrious Johnson

In fact, Johnson’s reign over the flyweight division was so significant that the promotion has even considered shutting it down altogether.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but Demetrious Johnson has since found a new home in ONE Championship. There, he reigns as the promotion’s current flyweight MMA titleholder and completed the first trilogy of his career, winning back-to-back bouts against former champion Adriano Moraes.

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Demetrious Johnson

Looking back on his time with the UFC, Johnson spoke about the promotion’s early days on social media and pushing athletes to expand their individual brands online with a series of incentives.

“When Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook first came out, the UFC would bring us to the ‘Fighter Summit’ and say, ‘You guys need to build your brand. It’s free. It costs you nothing. The more people want to see you fight, the more money you’re going to make because you’re going to make money in pay-per-view points, etc., etc., if you become a champion, if you become a partner,’” Johnson said on his YouTube channel.

“The UFC was very good about doing that. Back then they would send you laptops. Back then they’d give you incentives, I think it was like quarterly. Whoever had the most traffic in their thing. First person would get $25,000. It would go like $12,000 then $5,000, maybe $1,000. They’d give us a lot of incentives to talk about the fights and boast it, and they kept on doing it for I think a year or two. Fast forward to what it is today, I think they’ve seen the payoff of them slowly investing in telling the fighters to do that” (h/t MMA Fighting).

Demetrious Johnson recalls how hard the UFC wanted to push Cain Velasquez

The UFC held Fighter Summits between 2009 and 2011, right around the time that Cain Velasquez rose to prominence and captured the heavyweight title with a stunning first-round knockout of Brock Lesnar at UFC 121.

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Cain KO's Lesnar

“I’ll never forget at the UFC Fighter Summit they pulled a picture of Cain Velasquez and were like, ‘You see this man? This man is Mexican-American. We are trying to break into the Mexican market so we want this man to do very, very well. You need to follow this man’s footsteps and try to get your community behind you. That way, it brings more eyeballs to the sport,’” Johnson said.

“I always tell my friends and my wife, any check I can get without getting punched in the face is a good check. It’s a good check because I’m getting paid for not me being in the gym, training hard, and fighting, but by me being a personal persona and going to shake some hands, doing whatever it may be.”