Right now, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson would rather make his money on the front end than the back.
That might change down the road, but Johnson knows that until he can draw the kind of interest as the UFC’s biggest draws, he probably won’t cash in from one of the biggest potential benefits they get: pay-per-view points.
“I’ve talked to fighters in the past who’ve had pay-per-view points, and they’ll fight on pay-per-view, and they won’t reach their goal, so they won’t get the pay-per-view points,” Johnson (19-2-1 MMA, 7-1-1 UFC) told MMAjunkie Radio. “I know I’m not a big name like Anderson Silva or [Georges St-Pierre]. That’s why there are only a few guys that have that kind of thing.
“I’d rather take the money up front than wager a bet.”
As of late, Johnson’s pay has seen a sharp uptick. He earned a disclosed $175,000 for knocking out Joseph Benavidez (19-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in a rematch at UFC on FOX 9 this past month. He also took home a $50,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus.
And that, he said, was largely the extent of his payday for the event. Still, that’s really not too bad for a guy who used to work at a factory.
“(But) you’ve got to think, like, I come from a job where I used to make $10.76 an hour, and I would only net out, like, $20,000 a year or maybe $18,000 a year,” Johnson said. “For me, I fight to take care of my family and be secure and to live. I’m only 27 years old, so I’ve still got a lot more years to climb the ladder.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to make payouts like Jon Jones and GSP. But for right now, I’ve got to work my way up. I’m not the type of fighter who’s going to complain, where you see fighters that come in the UFC and they’re making [$3,000 to show and $3,000 as win bonus] and say, ‘Man, I can’t do anything.’ I started there. My first fight for the WEC, my payout was $3,000 and $3,000, and my MRI cost $3,000, and I lost the fight, and I still had to pay out my coaches. You’ve got to start somewhere.”
In his previous bout, where he earned a fifth-round submission win over John Moraga at UFC on FOX 8, Johnson earned a disclosed $58,000 payday. So, clearly, he’s on the move.
And not only that, but the 27-year-old champ is in the prime of his career, so he has plenty of chances to up his earning power and pick up more fans to justify a leap to PPV.
As it stands, Johnson is a staple of UFC on FOX broadcasts. Unhurt in his most recent victory, he said he’d like to return to the cage in spring or early summer, when he anticipates a potential meeting the winner of a bout between John Lineker and Ali Bagautinov at UFC 169 next month.
Johnson isn’t completely opposed to another meeting with Benavidez, though he would like to move on to different challenges. He added that he’s currently focused on the flyweight division and doesn’t anticipate moving up to his former weight class at 135 pounds.
“You look at the guys like Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn, Edgar beat him twice already, and Edgar lost the title, and now is at 145 (pounds) and B.J. Penn and him are coaching ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’” Johnson said. “I’d love to close the books on me and Joseph, but that’s me not being open. This is MMA; anything could happen.”
Whatever is in his future, he plans to work hard for his money, at least until he’s at the point where he no longer has to worry about it.
“I’ve always been curious what ‘F-you’ money is, but I don’t know what it is,” Johnson joked. “I would just say $100 million. (But) the UFC takes care of me, my wife doesn’t have to work, I don’t have to work, and my son, he’s good. I’m happy.”
For the latest on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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