By Zach Arnold | September 7, 2015
@MattRoth512 our 44min nice produced interview w/ dj did less views than Alex Chambers. It's astonishing how little fans care about him. ????
— E. Casey Leydon (@ekc) September 7, 2015
As technically skilled of a champion in modern day Mixed Martial Arts, Demetrious Johnson unfortunately doesn’t fit in the current zeitgeist that is UFC.
He isn’t trademarking and barking phrases like “do nothing bitch.” He isn’t writing Internet rants about women and yoga. He isn’t a domestic batterer. He doesn’t talk about his opponents in terms of prison rape. He’s not, at least to anyone’s knowledge, a steroid abuser. He’s also under 145 pounds.
In today’s marketplace, that’s a recipe for not drawing paying customers, let alone respect amongst UFC’s heavily pro-wrestling dominated audience base. They want loud, they want crass, they want over-the-edge, and they want Lightweight-or-higher size.
Henry Cejudo is the last real test on the horizon for Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo would be UFC’s marketing dream, at least on paper. Perhaps he could pull off the impossible and make a sub-145 pound weight class a household division. Probably not, though.
In a perfect world where there was real global MMA competition, especially in Japan, Demetrious Johnson would have significant more opportunities to build his reputation up as a star. He would have been a perfect fit in PRIDE. Even though the Takanori Gomi-led Bushido series didn’t draw as well as the main PRIDE cards, the Bushido events still drew enough attention and produced some outstanding fights. With the Japanese space largely in a vacuum due to the crackdown on dark money & TV shareholders nervous to step back into the void, guys like Demetrious Johnson and Bibiano Fernandes don’t have the financial opportunities as other champion fighters do. They come into the sport with some marketing disadvantages and on a UFC-type stage, those disadvantages become magnified. Thanks to UFC’s deal with Reebok, Microsoft is paying the company and not the fighter to advertise their product.
UFC can no longer afford to put Demetrious Johnson fights in main event slots on cards. It’s a shame, too, because he can be a finisher but the fans are now conditioned to believe that the smaller, faster fighters simply go the distance. The bathroom break portion of the show.