Washington High grad out to defend UFC title

Contributing writerDecember 14, 2013 

Family and friends hoping to get a glimpse of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s Ultimate Fighting Championship belt at his South Sound home usually come up empty.

The glittery gold belt isn’t displayed on the mantel like a crowning achievement — it’s stashed in a back bedroom.

“I even forget I have it sometimes,” said Johnson, a Washington High School graduate. “I don’t go in that room because we don’t use it.”

The act is representative of the fighter’s down-to-earth personality and humility that have helped him build an 18-2-1 UFC record and twice successfully defend his 125-pound flyweight title.

Johnson most recently won a fight via a fifth-round submission hold against John Moraga on July 27 at KeyArena.

He’s back in the octagon Saturday in Sacramento (5 p.m., Ch. 13) when he faces off against Joseph Benavidez for the UFC flyweight title.

The two fought to a split decision Sept. 22, 2012, in Toronto.

Despite all of Mighty Mouse’s recent success that has him at the top of his weight class, he hasn’t eased up on his training or gotten a big head about being the champion.

“I’m still training hard,” the 27-year-old said via telephone this week. “I’m just trying to get better.”

The recent wins have only strengthened Johnson’s belief in his training methods, he said.

“Every fight shows us something we want to improve on,” said Matt Hume, Johnson’s trainer since 2005.

Johnson’s stand-up fighting and submission game are outstanding, Hume said, and the two are trying to build other aspects of Johnson’s repertoire.

“We’re trying to show everyone that knockout power,” Hume said. “It’s about putting on that exclamation point and getting the knockout.”

Hume also praises Johnson’s stamina in the octagon — another credit to his training methods.

“He doesn’t have to conserve his energy,” Hume said. “Most fighters don’t have the gas to go the whole fight, but he’s able to push through the entire fight.”

Johnson says he will be tested against Benavidez on Saturday.

During the previous matchup, however, Johnson successfully fended off Benavidez’s best finishing moves.

“We were prepared for that last time,” Hume said, “and we’re prepared for it this time as well.”

Benavidez has a record of 19-3. His previous two fights ended in TKOs fueled by body shots followed by finishing punches.

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