By Jordan Newmark | 3 August 2018
In the Internet age, you can talk with a professional fighter, challenge them in combat, and, promptly lose all without leaving your own living room.
Arguably, the leading deliverer of digital drubbings is the same person handing the most out analog-style inside the Octagon, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. He is kicking ass inside the cage and inside the web. He’s a fighter and a winner no matter what he does. I’m very competitive,” asserts Johnson. “I competed in the H1Z1 tournament in 2016, and I was pissed off.
It’s fun and different. My livelihood isn’t determined on me winning this tournament like some of the other guys who clock in so many hours. For me, videogames are a release. It’s entertainment, but I want to win.”
The undisputed kingpin of MMA’s 125 pound Bantam Flyweight division has been just as busy amassing an online following by interacting with fans while playing videogames as Johnson has by earning a UFC record of 11 consecutive title defenses.
On the live streaming platform Twitch, Johnson has spent the past two and a half years turning “Mighty Mouse” into the brand “Mighty Gaming”.
More and more mixed martial artists are following Johnson’s lead and getting onto Twitch to develop their own fanbases. This past E3, the current UFC Flyweight champion, alongside the current UFC Welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, and bantamweight, Sean O’Malley, competed in the first celebrity ProAm tournament for charity playing the immensely popular Fortnite.
Between Johnson’s subscription channel and a growing selection of apparel with his brand’s logo on it, the champ’s angling for his favorite pastime to become his post-fight career. And he’s succeeding—no surprise there!
“My wife (Destiny) said that I’m playing the games already, it would be a great way for me to interact with the fans on a different level,” Johnson remembers. “When it comes to mixed martial arts, I show up to the town, I fight, and then I get out of town. And I go back into the shadows of the training room.
My wife thought it would be a good idea to show a different side of me. The goofy side of me. At first, I thought I didn’t need people to tell me how to play a game. I’m not going to do it. Then sure enough, I started streaming me playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and I had two viewers and I was in my underwear. And that was the start of the Twitch channel.”
From tackling Super C in tandem with his mom to the hundreds of solo hours conquering the Resident Evil franchise, gaming has been ever present in Johnson’s life and is hardcoded into his vernacular.
The first time I ever spoke to Mighty Mouse was prior to his rumbly-tumbly tangle with Miguel Torres at UFC 130, which he won by unanimous decision, and Johnson couldn’t help himself, but just had to work videogames into the conversation about his fighting ethos.
“I always move, I always make sure my opponent never gets a lock on me,” explained Johnson in 2011. “I tell my students at the gym it's like playing Duck Hunt. First level of Duck Hunt is like quack, quack, bang and you got him. But you get to level 8 and it's like quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack and you're out of your bullets and that dog is on the screen laughing at you. That's how I look at it. That's how I move when I fight.”
Movement, pressure, and keeping his opponents guessing have all been hallmarks of Johnson’s illustrious fighting career. This strategy is also a winner when crossing over into gaming as a career. As a triumvirate, they are a surefire fighting strategy Johnson employs in games and, at times, are found in games that inspire Mighty Mouse to try out new ideas in the gym.
“In Fortnite, all you’re going to do is hurt somebody and then pressure them,” says Johnson. “You don’t give them the chance to build or a chance to heal or use their Slurp. In fighting games like Dragon Ball FighterZ, you can always hit him in the head and then see if he’s good at blocking there then go low. You can checkout their weakness.
Put him into a position where he doesn’t know how to fight. In mixed martial arts it’s the same thing, you hurt somebody to the liver, you follow-up and don’t give the chance to recover. The movement and the footwork in the game Tekken.
That game had so many different styles of fighting.
How they moved and how they hit to the liver, I definitely get inspired by games like that. Even games like Marvel vs. Capcom or X-Men vs. Street Fighter, all those games I’ve been inspired by them.”
Easily, the greatest similarity that Mighty fight fans know from the Octagon and the Mighty videogame fans are coming to know on Twitch is Johnson’s willingness to put in the hours to get better.
No one can dismiss Johnson’s hard work in the gym and how it has lead time and time again to evolutions in the cage. Most would say he’s the best fighter in the sport and, without a doubt, the most humble, which he keeps Johnson striving for more.
Not surprisingly, this is the mindset that has brought Johnson great success in MMA, and has come along with him into competitive videogames.
“The parts are there, the mind is there, but the execution isn’t there the way it is for me in the Octagon,” tells Johnson. “I’ve been training for 13 years straight, no time off, so my execution in the Octagon is - it looks perfect - but it’s not exactly there yet. When it comes to gaming,
I still have a long way to go to get to that point. Practice makes perfect. Putting in the hours is probably 65% to 70% of it and the rest is going to be watching guys like Ninja, Gotaga, and Goldglove. Watching big streamers who stream for a living.
Watch someone like Shroud play the game you like. I may never get to that point, which is totally fine. I’m playing games, I’m streaming on Twitch for the entertainment value and my entertainment value as well, and to build that community. But one of my goals is to do well at a tournament one day.”
Check it out! Follow along with the Might Mouse’s progress and, perhaps, to see the current UFC flyweight champion’s ‘goofy side.’Join in on the game here. Also, check out Johnson’s funky apparel here.
image source: virtuallyvain