Demetrious Johnson And The Misunderstanding Of Black MMA Fighter Promotion

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, the UFCs most dominant champion since Anderson Silva, spoke out against the organization this week about what he considers to be unfair treatment. 

Johnson has accused the UFC and its President, Dana White , of bullying him during his tenure as a champion. Johnson claims he was seeking a fight with current UFC bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt, who agreed to go down in weight to challenge the dominant flyweight.

Demetrious Johnson speaks out on ‘mistreatment’ and ‘bullying’ | UFC TONIGHT

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Johnson said UFC matchmakers delivered a message from Dana White that he must fight former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw or else. 

In response, “Mighty Mouse” said he didn’t care if they shut down the entire flyweight division, he was not budging from his stance. Johnson called this a new version of the same song and cited the UFCs consistent attempts to control him, even as a champion who has been the consummate company man. In addition, Johnson accused the UFC of not understanding how to promote him.

First, to fully understand what is happening here, one must be schooled in MMAs athlete problem. It is a fiefdom where the promoters at the top take the lion share of the profit while the fighters fight for crumbs in virtual silence. 

Top tier champions like Conor McGregor make substantial points on pay-per-view in addition to their purses. However, with the addition of Reebok as the apparel sponsor, a crucial sponsorship element has been taken away.

The Reebok deal pays fighters on a tiered system based on how many Octagon appearances they have made over a certain period of time. Either way, it eliminates their ability to hustle up sponsors on their own, which they used to proudly wear on their walkout shirts and fight shorts like NASCAR drivers. Then free agency came and fighters began jumping ship to the Viacom-backed promotion, Bellator MMA. Bellator fighters as well jumped ship, but for bigger glory due to the UFC’s branding and hopefully a bigger piece of the pie.

Still with a lack of a cohesive fighters union and/or a collective bargaining agreement, MMAs main product, its athletes, are virtually powerless to the promoters that employ them. In addition, every attempt to thwart Dana White from within has always been squashed, even Conor McGregors famous attempt before his rematch against Nate Diaz.

However, there is another deeper issue here. At its heart is that UFC does not know how to market African-American athletes without controversy attached. Fighters like Demetrious Johnson who don’t use social media as a hype bazaar and don’t make headlines in their personal life are an enigma to the UFC. Just as fighters like Tyron Woodley, who use their platform to talk about social injustices, are also misunderstood.

Rampage Jackson talking junk to Rashad Evans at UF 96

More at Well Rampage did the home work and got Jardine. Next is Rashad Evans. As you can see this two birds had a lot of junk to say after the fight with Jardine. I will look forward for this fight and reserve my tickets to UFC event.

When Rampage Jackson fought Rashad Evans, drama was at an all-time high. And for better or worse, divisive catch phrases like black on black crime and Uncle Tom were harped on to sell the fight. 

Today, Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones is littered with profanity, trash talk and cocaine. Literally. 

It is a tense, animus-filled future encounter that will do wonders for the UFC, who promotes the drama with ease. But will they do the same for regular family guys like Woodley and Johnson, who merely want what they feel like they have justly earned? The answer is no.

Many will tell you that Johnson’s diminutive size as a flyweight contributes heavily to his lowered appeal on pay-per-view. One needs to look no further than to the man who kept the smaller guys on the map in a sport where that was virtually impossible, boxing.

Floyd Mayweather JR trash talking genius – Gatti

Young Floyd JNR was a great trash talker, he beat Gatti in this fight and even paid for his funeral. RIP Gatti please subscribe

When Floyd Mayweather famously bought out his promotional contract from Bob Arum of Top Rank, it was so that he could market himself. He knew that he was relevant to the street culture audience, who applauded his affinity to flaunt his wealth. He also knew that would draw many haters who would pay to see him lose. 

No matter how many times he won, the running narrative would be hope that he would finally live to eat his words. It never happened. Today even the UFC wants to get in bed with Money because he understands himself and his market so well.

Todays MMA fighter unfortunately is tasked with being an expert marketer and top tier athlete. Unfair for sure, but a necessary evil if you want to get closer to what you deserve. 

For black UFC and MMA athletes, it’s the difference of cooning, becoming a character like Rampage Jackson or facing invisibility while performing on the biggest stages. The road will be long and arduous still.

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