What Greatness Looks Like

Last night in Las Vegas something spectacular happened. For the uninitiated, the above video is a human tossing another human of a similar size into the air and putting him in a submission hold (armbar in this case) in mid-air to finish the fight.

Not only is this the most amazing finish I have seen in my 25 year relationship with Mixed Martial Arts, its videogame roots are apt for a fighter in Demetrius Johnson, who spends his spare time on Twitch — playing videogames. The lead up to this finish saw “Might Mouse” as he is known to out strike, out dodge, out defend, out work his opponent, Ray Borg. As I was talking about this fight with a couple friends this morning one of them quipped, “he is the guy at the roller rink lapping everyone.”

I responded, “he is the guy at the roller rink on a hoverboard.” This athlete is playing a different game than the other men he is fighting. His last lost was in 2011 against Dominick Cruz and seven years ago I said if they make a 125lb division just give the belt to Mighty Mouse because nobody will beat him and then haven’t.

His win last night cements him in the pantheon of mixed martial arts as he beats Anderson Silva’s prior record of title defenses (10) becoming the first person in the sports history to defend his belt 11 times.

After all that, here is where it gets interesting. What is next?

Sure there are fighters at 125 lbs that he has not faced but after last night I wonder if any could touch him since better fighters have faced him 11 times and none have them have solved the riddle. In fighting as in business these are the times where you look in the mirror and take some of Gary Vee’s advice and put yourself out of business. It is easy to stay comfortable but eventually someone is going to put your lights out — ask every grocery chain that isn’t Whole Foods what happens when Amazon shows up in your backyard.

DJ could stay at 125 until it is too late (Anderson Silva took two devastating losses in a row and was never the same) or take a bigger risk. If you look at another UFC Fighter, Conor McGregor you can see a different kind of special. Can he fight? Of course he can, he has won championships in two different divisions but has yet to defend them because he looks for what Casey Niestat calls the “you can’t” moments.

You can’t beat a guy who has held the belt (Jose Aldo) for a decade — he beat him in :14 seconds.

You can’t vacate that belt to go up to 155lbs and win that belt — he beat Eddie Alvarez inside two rounds.

You can’t go up to 170 lbs and fight Nate Diaz — he did and lost by submission.

You can’t do that a second time — he did and beat Nate.

You can’t headline a boxing card with zero experience against one of the greatest boxers ever — you guessed, he can and he did.

When you are pulling moves off 23 minutes into a 25 minute fight as if it is a practice session for you — I would argue it is time to challenge yourself. There is no debate that DJ is the best of all time in the UFC one part Bruce Lee, one part all of those fighters who paved the way for this sport, and one part incredible X-factor, but comfortable is not how people like DJ live their lives.

So after last night I am excited to see what is next for DJ because that move was simply amazing.

Eric HultgrenComment