Although Demetrious Johnson was at one point the pound-for-pound top fighter in the UFC, “Mighty Mouse’s” paychecks certainly weren’t reflecting it. From 2012 to 2018 Johnson ran rampant through the UFC’s 125-pound division, dominating as the champion and knocking down all contenders who stepped up for the challenge.
However, his run came to an end in 2018 when Henry Cejudo became the first man to defeat Johnson at 125 pounds. It also marked the final fight of his UFC career before being part of the first-ever trade in mixed martial arts (MMA) history, being sent to ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren.
Demetrious Johnson Breaks Down Fighter Pay During Title Run
Johnson recently took to a Twitch stream in which he discussed the pay he was making throughout his UFC career. During his early days in the UFC back in 2011, when Johnson was still fighting at bantamweight, “Mighty Mouse” revealed he was making 14k to show, and 14k to win.
“When I fought Dominick Cruz [for the UFC bantamweight title], I was fighting for 14k [to show] and 14k [to win],” Johnson said. “Lost to Dominick Cruz, I made 14k. Then I was about to fight Eddie Wineland, but that didn’t go through so I fought Ian McCall in Australia. I was still on that same contract. And then, I got a NEW contract when I fought Ian McCall for a second time, I think I got bumped up to $20k/$20k.” H/T MMAMania
Speaking more so on the middle of his UFC title reign, Johnson then explained that he was still only making $23k/$23k before eventually receiving a significant bump, however, that didn’t include pay-per-view (PPV) points – which eventually became standard for all champions.
“And then I fought Joseph Benavidez and I was still on that $20k/$20k,” Johnson said. “When I fought John Dodson I made $23k/$23k, when I fought John Moraga it probably went $26k/$26k, and then when it was Joseph Benavidez [again] I think it was like $30k/$30k.
“And then I finally got a new contract as champion, and I think it was $125k/$50k, but I didn’t get pay-per-view points and that’s where most champions get their bang for their buck, it’s in pay-per-view points. Because if you get on a card with a Conor McGregor and he does 2.1 million buys, then you just do the f—ing math, you’re going to make a s—load of money.
“I never got the opportunity to do that, so when they tried to stiff arm me for the fight against T.J. Dillashaw I was like ‘Pay me a f—ing million dollars and I’ll do it. This is a super fight, let’s make some super money.’ They never wanted to do that. That’s why I came out like that, basically pushing back, like when does a champion have leverage, when does a champion get what’s due to him?”
DJ TALKING ABOUT HIS UFC CONTRACT. HE WAS STUCK MAKING 30/30 IN HIS 3RD TITLE DEFENSE. pic.twitter.com/0HZV9Tjcza
— Chungus Supreme (@FightsCameraPod) January 18, 2023
Finally, Johnson took issue with the likes of ex-WWE star CM Punk, who was making his MMA debut, was making a significant amount more than him despite he being a longtime champion.
“I’m going on my seventh or eighth title defense, you’ve got CM Punk over here and he’s making 500 bones [500k] and it’s his second fight in the UFC. That’s where the chip on my shoulder came from.”