MMA Today: Flyweight contender juggles honeymoon, training

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 1:39 PM

Bob Emanuel Jr.

Demetrious Johnson felt so strongly about his desire to be declared the Ultimate Fighting Championship's first-ever flyweight champion that he made an unusual request.

Johnson, whose initial semifinal fight against Ian McCall in March was ruled a draw, was scheduled to be married last month. He first asked if the rematch could be postponed. Instead, UFC President Dana White proposed that Johnson let McCall take the title fight and face the winner -- or he could take the rematch and balance the wedding with training.

Johnson chose the rematch. He and his new wife honeymooned in Hawaii where he trained twice daily.

"Prior to me and Ian McCall's first engagement, I already had set plans to go get married to my fiancee in Hawaii," Johnson said. "We kind of took accountability. I didn't want to hold up the flyweight division. I know they want to crown a champion.

"I trained all the way up until the point I left for Hawaii. I trained twice a day in Hawaii, so it wasn't really a honeymoon. I'm thankful my wife was very supportive. When I got back, I finished a three-week training camp."

Johnson defeated McCall last weekend and will face Joseph Benavidez later this year for the flyweight title.


He never captured a championship, but Kenny Florian's career in the UFC provided a litany of achievements.

Florian fought on the inaugural season of "The Ultimate Fighter Live," losing as a middleweight to Diego Sanchez in the finale. Florian steadily dropped in weight classes, first to welterweight, then to lightweight and flyweight. He competed for three titles -- two at lightweight and one at flyweight.

Then a long-standing back injury forced his departure from active competition.

"(The decision) was very difficult," he said. "You get so used to living that lifestyle and having that schedule of training every day. That really becomes your identity.

"It was months of really trying to figure out how to really deal with this injury and move forward. It's been very difficult ... So far the answer has been that I can't do what I was doing before. That's why I had to come to that conclusion. I don't want to go in there and give the fans a half-(expletive) effort or possibly injure myself further."

Florian, 14-6 overall and 12-5 in the UFC, will remain as one of the promotion's analysts, teaming with Jon Anik on the second broadcasting team, and will appear on other programming.


Injuries have forced the shuffling of several UFC main events.

Vitor Belfort will miss his scheduled "UFC 147" bout against fellow The Ultimate Fighter Brazil coach Wanderlei Silva. Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin will replace Belfort in a 190-pound catchweight fight on June 23.

"I'm happy to be back and in a big fight," said Franklin, who defeated Silva at "UFC 99" in 2009. "I was happy it was five rounds. I didn't ask for it to be three rounds. Fighting five rounds is more about how you pace the fight, not what you do in training."

"UFC 149" also experienced mass changes. UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo sustained an injury and will miss his title defense against Erik Koch. The co-main event of "UFC 148," Urijah Faber versus Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title, was shifted by two weeks to become "UFC 149's" main event.

Brian Stann will also miss his scheduled bout against former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard at "UFC on Fox 4" in August. Brandon Vera and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua will not headline the card.

Lombard's debut was moved to "UFC 149" on July 21 against Tim Boetsch.


Bellator Fighting Championships announced several signings, including once-highly-touted heavyweight Brett Rogers.

Rogers, who won the first 10 fights of his career, lost four of his last five fights, including high-profile losses to Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett in "Strikeforce."

"I feel that I am still one of the top heavyweights in the sport, and now I have the opportunity to prove it with Bellator," Rogers, 11-4, said. "I love the tournament format, as it will give me the chance to regain my top position, of course with a lot hard work."

Bellator also signed bantamweight Rafael Silva, lightweight Guillaume DeLorenzi and heavyweight Ryan Martinez.

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