Former UFC flyweight champion and current ONE Championship superstar Demetrious Johnson believes Conor McGregor being the highest-paid athlete in the sport is something that probably contributed to the UFC superstar’s demise against Dustin Poirier last month at UFC 257. Johnson believes McGregor’s inactivity over the last few years is at least partially due to how much the UFC has to pay him for each fight.
“Every company has a budget, and when you have an athlete that makes that much money, it’s coming out of your pocket,” Johnson told Heavy.
While Johnson admitted his knowledge and understanding about how things work on that side of the promotion might not be 100% accurate or up-to-date, the 34-year-old has been around long enough by now to know more about that kind of stuff than most people.
Johnson’s opinion can’t simply be dismissed.
“From what I’ve heard, every fight has a budget,” Johnson said. “I could be completely wrong, but that’s why I feel Conor can’t be as active as he wants to. It’s because he’s an expensive athlete.”
According to a report by the Independent, McGregor banked $5 million as his base sum for UFC 257 before any portion of the pay-per-view proceeds was figured into his purse.
By comparison, Poirier’s base sum was expected to be somewhere around $300,000.
Johnson Keeps Eye on UFC Fights
Johnson is considered by most pundits to be one of the best MMA fighters in any weight class from any era in history.
In 2018, the American legend was shockingly traded by the UFC to Asia-based promotional company ONE Championship for welterweight star Ben Askren.
Johnson continued his winning ways under his new promotional banner. The fighter is 3-0 since the trade, and his next fight will be for ONE Championship flyweight gold.
Still, Johnson remains interested in the UFC’s biggest and best fights. So Johnson was glued to his TV watching UFC 257 along with the rest of the world.
“Dustin did a great job weathering those first clean shots that Conor landed. He kept with the gameplan with the low kick, and he was able to put Conor away,” Johnson said.
Johnson believes Poirier’s steady activity competing against elite lightweights is what helped prepare “The Diamond” to pull the upset.
“The biggest thing is Dustin has been so active,” Johnson said.
Johnson is interested in seeing how the third fight might play out, though he didn’t seem sure how McGregor could get back to fighting as much as necessary to compete against the best fighters in the sport.
“Conor can’t fight as much as other guys on the roster unless he takes a pay cut. But no athlete would ever do that,” Johnson said.
ONE Championship on TNT
Move over UFC, because ONE Championship is heading to American television on TNT this year.
The first “ONE on TNT” series is scheduled to be headlined by two former UFC champs in separate bouts, Johnson and former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
Johnson is set to challenge ONE Championship flyweight champion Adriano Moraes in the main event of that card.
The “ONE on TNT” series will feature ONE Championship events over four consecutive weeks beginning April 7.
Each event will feature prelims streamed on B/R Live at 9 p.m. ET and three-fight main cards beginning at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.
Johnson (30-3-1) last competed in October 2019 when he defeated Danny Kingad to win the ONE Championship flyweight Grand Prix.
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