Morning Report: Demetrious Johnson scoffs at his UFC pay compared to CM Punk, ‘I had to defend the belt eight f****** times’

Demetrious Johnson is arguably the greatest pure MMA fighter of all-time. Unfortunately for him and countless others, that didn’t always lead to the highest compensation in the UFC.

The worldwide leader in mixed martial arts just settled its ongoing antitrust lawsuit this week. For many, the suit was a beacon of hope that could lead to a dramatic change in fighter pay and the overall landscape of the sport. Instead, not much is expected to change after the company agreed to give back $335 million to those who went against their former fighting home.

He wasn’t a part of the lawsuit, but former UFC flyweight champion and all-time great Johnson was in a comparatively unfair position simply due to his size. “Mighty Mouse” reflected on his treatment as the 125-pound king from September 2012 to August 2016 after the news of the settlement. Specifically, when it came to his lack of PPV points across his 11 title defenses, he could have seen a decent boost when considering the cards he was on.

“They specifically said, ‘We do not give pay-per-view points to flyweight guys,’” Johnson said on his YouTube channel. “They said it to me, and when they did that, that’s when I went ahead and took the [$125,00] (show money) and [$50,000] (win bonus) after I beat Joseph Benavidez in Sacramento for the second time when I knocked him out. I got the opportunity, I went through my whole contract as a champion, I got to renegotiate, I wanted pay-per-view points, they said, ‘We don’t give it to you guys, and that’s where I went 125 and 50. Went on another streak, and I fought Henry Cejudo. After I knocked out Henry Cejudo, they gave me $350,000 guaranteed, go up every 10,000 as an escalator. Then, finally, they put in my contract when I would break the record, or when I fight Henry Cejudo, they would give me pay-per-view points just for that one fight.

“If you’re a lightweight or a welterweight, middleweight, or heavyweight, I’ve been told (by champions at the time) that once they became champion, they got $500,000 flat, and it went straight into their contract. They got pay-per-view points every single time. So, when Conor [McGregor] became champion, he got $500,000 flat—pay-per-view points. Jon Jones got $500,000 flat, pay-per-view points. And some more. They disclose $500,000 flat, but that’s what they got. For me, it was never that.

“If I would have got pay-per-view points every single time I defended my belt, if I was on the Jon Jones, Conor McGregor card, Amanda Nunes, whatever it may be, it might not be $800,000 extra check, but those extra six-figure checks add up eventually,” he continued. “10-11 consecutive title defenses. You put me on three Conor McGregor cards…”

Coincidentally, Johnson’s rematch with Cejudo, where he received his only PPV point compensation, was his last in the UFC after he lost a closely contested split decision. Johnson went on to be one-half of the first and only MMA “trade” when he swapped promotions with ONE Championship welterweight title holder Ben Askren.

Johnson, 37, has been nearly flawless — as expected — in ONE in his six fights since arriving in March 2019. Currently the 135-pound flyweight champion, Johnson has lost just once (25-4-1 overall) to Adriano Moraes, whom he’s beaten twice in succession to first win the crown before defending it. Additionally, he’s won a mixed-rules bout via a second-round rear-naked choke against Rodtang Jitmuangnon.

The tail-end of Johnson’s UFC run was around when the Phil “CM Punk” Brooks experiment unfolded in the promotion. The former WWE star performed embarrassingly in his two outings in 2016 and 2018, respectively, but received staggeringly high base paydays thanks to his name value outside the octagon. The legendary Johnson noted how he wasn’t upset about the situation or had anything personal towards Brooks, but it was wild to think about when comparing their positions.

“This guy comes in and gets a base salary of f****** $500,000,” Johnson said. “There were also potential pay-per-view bonuses and other financial incentives in his contract. I had to defend the belt eight f****** times, and I didn’t get this.”

Aftermath.What kind of check?’: Fighter confusion, fear, and curiosity meet $335 million UFC class-action settlement

Talks. Dana White disputes ‘lack of communication’ with Conor McGregor, explains timeline for fight booking

Damaged. Ronda Rousey reveals severe history of concussions led to retirement, rips WWE and vows never to return

Problems. Benoit Saint Denis reveals staph infection, bad weight cut led to ‘worst fight week’ at UFC 299

Fail. Walt Harris accepts 4-year suspension for violating UFC anti-doping policy

Goals. Rose Namajunas aims to become two-division champion with win at UFC Vegas 89

Guarantee. James Gallagher promises ‘abso-f******-lutely’ his swagger is back, anticipates title shot after win at Bellator Belfast

Expectation. Jeremy Kennedy doesn’t buy that Patricio Pitbull is ‘washed’ after 2 losses, but ‘nobody is young forever

Champ. Patricio Pitbull did 5 rounds of sparring after fight cancellation in Saudi Arabia, weight not an issue for Bellator Belfast

Matchup. Jonathan Martinez shares hilarious reaction to welcoming Jose Aldo back from retirement at UFC 301

Business. Donn Davis believes UFC antitrust lawsuit settlement proves ‘it’s the best time in the market’ for fighters

Reflection. Sean O’Malley coach: Chito Vera was ‘just as slow as I remembered’ at UFC 299

Between the Links.

MMA Fighting’s Jose Youngs chats with Bob Menery.


Pereira’s best finishes.

Free fight.

Bellator Belfast Fight Week Vlog.

Full fight.

Pereira vs. Helwani.

Middleweight Aljo?!

Calf kicks.

Aspinall vs. Ramsey.

Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck reacts to fighter-less UFC 300 poster, antitrust lawsuit settlement.

A little DWP melody. An excellent live jam.

“Some schizophrenic Canadian metal,” said MMA Fighting commenter Diblert. Shouts to you! Wake up, everyone, it’s Friday!

Go to Twitter, use the #MorningReport hashtag, or find one of my tweets with it, and drop me a jam you’re currently really into. I’ll pick the best one alongside my daily choice and give you a shoutout! You can also share in the comments below—those are just harder to sift through sometimes!

Classic Stamp.

Captain Bullet.


No fun.

Cover boy … for UFC…??

Ryan Spann (21-9) vs. Bogdan Guskov (15-3); UFC Vegas 91, April 27

Marnic Mann (6-2) vs. Ketlen Souza (13-4); UFC Vegas 91, April 27

Alex Perez (24-8) vs. Tagir Ulanbekov (15-2), UFC Fight Night, June 15

At this point, I don’t really know how you can deny that the UFC did Johnson dirty. At least he made up for it with the move to ONE.

Happy Friday, all. Kick back and relax. Thanks for reading!


Should Demetrious Johnson have received pay-per-view points for those UFC events he fought on?

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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