Ex-UFC Champ Says Joe Rogan Pushed Narrative To Get Him Axed

Joe Rogan, UFC

Getty Joe Rogan interviews Darren Till after the UFC Welterweight Title bout during UFC 228.

Ex-UFC champion Demetrious Johnson has opened up about his departure from the promotion and the involvement of color commentator Joe Rogan in the trade.

The inaugural and former UFC flyweight king Johnson is widely regarded as one of the best mixed martial artists of all time. During his run at the top, Johnson proved to be a dominant champion racking up the most finishes in the division’s history with seven, and also recorded 11 title defenses.

Although Johnson was a very successful athlete inside the cage, he was not necessarily a big star in the company. He got traded to ONE Championship in exchange for former ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren in Oct. 2018. Not much came from the announcement as all involved kept most of the details under the rug.

In an appearance on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani, Johnson shared his thoughts on what the idea could have been behind the move.

“Honestly, I think it was me,” he said. “But I still don’t have the full story. I think I’ll probably release it when I’m ready to. Like, I know how it happened, but there are pieces where I still don’t know how it happened. So, I still need to find that out.”

Johnson revealed that popular podcast host Rogan was also involved in encouraging the trade.

“I know Joe Rogan had something to do with it too. I haven’t had the chance to speak to Joe. I heard something like he told Dana White to get Ben Askren. So I still need to hear his foresight on that, like why would he push that narrative?”

Johnson Opened Up About the Time Dana White Called Him a ‘Dumba**’

Johnson had previously expressed frustrations about his dealings with UFC president Dana White and the top executives, whom he claimed tried to strong-arm him in negotiations. He had received a threat from the company brass that the entire flyweight division would get cut before he finally left for ONE Championship.

He opened up about the origin of the dispute and recounted the time White yelled at him on a phone call.

“It was when I was streaming on Twitch,” Johnson said (ht MMA Fighting). “I’m playing a game — and when I started streaming on Twitch, I started being more vocal — and somebody in the Twitch chat goes, ‘Hey man, did you hear about The Ultimate Fighter? What they’re going to do next?’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ and he goes, ‘They’re going to do The Ultimate Fighter, it’s going to be all the champions and they’re going fight you and the winner gets to fight [for the belt].’

“And I go, ‘Well that’s f****** stupid.’ And then I was like, ‘What about the guys on a five-fight win streak? What about Joseph Benavidez? They’re just going to skip the line?’ I said that and the next day I got a phone call from Dana White.

“Dana White never called me when I was in the UFC. He called and he goes, ‘You dumbass! You just ruined this whole thing we’re trying to set up for you! Blah, blah, blah.’ And I was like, ‘Well I just found out online from a random dude on Twitch and I gave him an honest opinion.’ And then he goes, ‘Sean Shelby didn’t call you?’ ‘No, he didn’t call me.’ And he goes, ‘Alright. Bye.’ He hangs up and the next day I get a call from Sean Shelby, ‘Hey, yeah bro —’ Too late! Too late dude.”

Johnson Revealed the Power Dynamics of His Relationship With the UFC

“Mighty Mouse” did not like the fact that he had almost no say in the direction of his career in the UFC.

When he was asked to fight former two-time bantamweight titleholder TJ Dillashaw, Johnson revealed it was more of an ultimatum where the promotion did not want to concede to a single point.

“But once they started to murky this stuff — ‘Oh, you’re going to fight this champion.’ Okay, let’s add some more money. Let’s add $1 million. ‘No, that can’t happen.’ Okay, well then if he doesn’t make weight, let’s fight for his belt. ‘No, can’t do that either.’ Okay, so where do I have leverage here? Where’s my power in being a champion?”

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