Demetrious Johnson plans to retire with ONE Championship: ‘I love this organization’

Demetrious Johnson is not going anywhere.

The ONE championship flyweight grand prix winner and former UFC champion doesn’t see himself switching organizations before hanging up his gloves. Johnson was traded from the UFC to ONE Championship in a historic deal for then ONE Championship fighter Ben Askren in late 2018.

Johnson (30-3 MMA) left the UFC regarded as one of the best fighters on the planet. He was coming off a close split decision loss to Henry Cejudo, but prior to that was on a 13-fight winning streak – which included 12 victories in UFC championship bouts. Today, Johnson remains the record holder for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history and is still considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

There’s no question Johnson’s UFC resume is impressive and one that’s tough to match. It’s one of several reasons why Johnson has no interest in leaving Asia to fight again for an American promotion.

“I will retire at ONE Championship. This is my last organization,” Johnson told MMA Junkie. “I love this organization. I love everything they stand for, I love how they take care of the athletes, so this is my last (organization). This is it. Once I’m done, I’m retired. I’m like, ‘I’m done, peace,’ because there’s nothing else for me to prove for North America. There truly isn’t. …

“I’m trying to make something of myself over here in Asia. And if I’m able to get another piece of gold, fantastic. If not, I look to put on some great spectacular performances. Fighting in North America for pretty much the majority of my career and each time I traveled to Asia, they’re like, ‘Can you please come over here and fight for us?’ We want to see you fight live, we want to see you fight live.’ I’m like, ‘OK, maybe one day I will.’ Now I’m over here fighting live for them. So I’m giving them what they wanted.”

Johnson has gone 3-0 since signing with ONE. He claimed the flyweight grand prix and is expected to challenge for the undisputed belt April 11 against champ Adriano Moraes.

Although Johnson knows where he wants to finish his career, the end still isn’t near. He sees himself fighting for quite some time.

“I give myself five more years,” Johnson said. “It all depends on the body, right? Like, I’m 32 years old (last year). I fought three times last year. I think I’ll probably fight twice this year. So as long as my body (is healthy), I’m having a fun with it, and I’m enjoying it, I’m just going to keep on going. But if I start, you know, getting knocked out, getting CTE and concussions and broken bones, I’m like, this isn’t worth it. I’ll focus on myself.

“I’m just being a realist. You know what I mean? I’m 33 years old. If I put five years at ONE, that’s what, I’m going to be 38 years old if my math is correct. Right, right, 38, 39. Then I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’m done. I think I’m done.”

Retirement still seems far for Johnson. Yet, fortunately he’s been preparing for the day he’s no longer a professional fighter. Johnson might not know exactly what he wants to focus on, but he will have the time and resources to give it a good thought.

“If I’m spending my money, I’ll just do whatever the f*ck I want to do,” Johnson said. “Excuse my language, but yeah, obviously I think mixed martial arts is always going to be part of my life.

“Obviously I would love to help out teammates of mine and help them through the same journey that I’ve gone through as a professional athlete. A little bit of gaming, but you know, I’ve always been very smart with my money.

“Ever since I remember fighting, I remember fighting my very first fight in WEC. I remember being there in the locker room. Dana White was like, ‘I’m going to give $65,000 to Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night and Submission of the Night.’ And I remember being in the car and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m about to buy me. I’m about to buy me a WRX STI, can’t wait.’ And I remember my coach, Matt (Hume), turned around and he goes, ‘No, you’re not. You’re going to buy a car, you’re going to buy a house, you’re going to invest. That’s what you’re going to do.’

“So I’ve always been good with my money ever since that first fight in WEC, and that was back in 2010. I’m 10 years deep in the game, and I’ve been very successful in my career so far, and I only look to be even more successful. So my goal is after I’m done I could decide whatever I want to do.”

To hear more from Johnson on retirement, watch the video above. And for the full one-on-one interview, check out the video below.

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