But after last night that spotlight on him may be unavoidable, with his second round submission victory of flyweight contender Wilson Reis, a blackbelt in BJJ. The win for Johnson (26-2-1) was monumental for the 125-pounder, as he officially tied Anderson Silva‘s UFC record of 10 straight title defenses.
If you’re looking for a comparison to this accolade from another sport, there really isn’t one. A string of maybe three title defenses is impressive, let alone 10. It’s a true anomaly in modern MMA.
Regardless, now the discussion arises as to whether “Mighty Mouse” is the greatest to ever do it. He’s got the record, he’s got the title defenses… but can a 125-pound flyweight really be the greatest fighter the UFC has seen? In the heightened world of controversy and character that the likes of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey have brought to the sport, can a quiet, family man be the one that goes down as number one?
Well, there is no concrete answer. However, the case for Johnson as the pound for pound greatest to ever do it is strong. Just look at how he wins his fights. At his core, Mighty Mouse is a true mixed martial artist, rather than specializing in one martial art. He’s similar to a “jack of all trades, master of none,” except he can tame anyone who is a master of their craft.
Let’s take last year’s fight with Henry Cejudo. Cejudo is an olympic gold medalist, and one of the most naturally athletic men to ever walk into the octagon. From the second he stepped into the cage when he met Johnson, Mighty Mouse dismantled him, and he even did it from the muay thai clinch (AGAINST AN OLYMPIAN!). Johnson wins the fight by mauling Cejudo with knees to the body, ending the fight within four minutes.
Then last night he faced a BJJ black belt in Reis, and ends up taping him out with an armbar after outwrestling him for two rounds. You really can’t make this stuff up.
The way that Johnson meets his opponents right where they excel and dominates them is uncanny. There is nobody else in the sport who does it.
With all of this said, the case for Johnson as the GOAT is a strong one. But here’s the thing: he doesn’t care. He’s one of the few fighters in the sport who has not let his success go to his head, and still sees what he does as a day job. So call him the GOAT, or don’t, because at the end of the day Mighty Mouse is still just going to put on his gloves and go to work everyday.