Demetrious Johnson is the UFC's reigning flyweight champion, and is the sport's highest-rated pound-for-pound fighter. Saturday's victory over Ray Borg suggests 31-year-old Johnson has plenty of fight left in him yet.
In his spare time, though, the fighter otherwise known as Mighty Mouse plays a lot of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. He livestreams on Twitch, often before and after fights, and is taking part in Uproar's The Golden Chicken pro tournament this weekend.
Ahead of that, we caught up with Johnson to talk about PUBG, bonding with his Twitch community, and his plans to livestream professionally when he eventually retires from mixed martial arts.
Demetrious Johnson is the UFC's reigning 11-time defended flyweight champion, and is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the business. In his spare time, he livestreams on Twitch and is gearing up for his second pro PUBG tournament this weekend—Uproar's The Golden Chicken.
PC Gamer: You're quite a prolific PUBG Twitch streamer nowadays. On the face of it, livestreaming and MMA seem at odds with one another.
Demetrious Johnson: They're definitely different but what they both have in common is that you have to be persistent. You have to be persistent with what you're doing to be successful in anything.
What is it that you enjoy about streaming videogames so much?
Honestly, it's interacting with the fans on a different platform. Obviously I've fought for many years, but interacting with fans in mixed martial arts is a little bit different because it's more of a competition. When we talk about videogames, we share the same passion.
When it came to streaming—I've been gaming for a long time, way before I ever started fighting. It's one of my biggest passions. And now I can share that passion with other fans via Twitch, it just makes sense.
Tell me about your relationship with videogames, then, what were your first games and your favourites?
The original Nintendo was the first games system I ever played. 3D World Runner, Snake Rattle 'n' Roll, The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda 2—those games were always really close to my heart. As I got older, I moved onto the Super Nintendo, and it's my favourite system of all time. A buddy of mine just picked me up a Super Nintendo classic.
And now you play a lot of PUBG.
I do, yes.
Would you say that it's your favourite game at the moment?
Yeah, hands-down, favourite game at the moment. There's so much you can do in the game. Sometimes I just jump around, I wanna run custom games, I want to jump in a car, honk the horn, and then run somebody over.
Maybe I'll battle someone one-on-one to grab an airdrop—I just have so many options and I truly enjoy that. I love having that level of freedom in games, instead of being penned in without choices.
Conor McGregor is a big deal in your field, and is really big here in the UK. Do you think if he played PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds you could beat him at that?
At PUBG? I fucking better be able to! I'd like to think I can, absolutely.
What other games do you most enjoy streaming?
PlayerUnknown's is my favourite one at the moment. But I also love Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, that's another one I like to stream. Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn - that's a little bit low key, not a lot of my viewers like that game.
But I must say, PUBG is definitely my favourite game at the moment. The fans can interact with it, they enjoy it, and so do I.
In terms of preparation—are there any similarities between getting yourself ready for an MMA fight, and preparing for a livestream?
I've never done a livestream of me fighting in the UFC or training or anything like that but I have livestreamed before going over to the arena to fight. But at UFC 197, I believe it was, I went to fight Henry Cejudo, and I was streaming Dark Souls 3. I said I'd be right back as I had to go fight, I fought, won, then came back and jumped right back on the stream. I've done that a few times before.
Dark Souls as a series is amazing. And it's an amazing game to stream. But I don't do any of that speed challenge bullshit, it's just too damn hard and takes too much time.
You're competing in Uproar's Golden Chicken tournament. How are you feeling about that?
Oh, I'm very excited. This is my second competition and obviously this is one of my favourite games. I'm looking forward to it and I'm looking forward to go out there and kill everybody in the woods. Nobody can beat the shadow, the Warrior in the Woods.
You're ranked as the number one pound-for-pound UFC in the world. Have you got what it takes to become the number one chicken dinner winner in the world?
I don't know, that's a long shot. You've got some really great, really talented guys out there at the moment. You've got guys who're playing these games professionally, eight hours a day. Videogames for me are a release, I wish I could that amount of time into it but I don't know if I could ever be better than them.
What I will say is this: There's not another athlete out there that puts as many hours into the gym, and as many hours into videogames that's as good as me.
Who's the biggest celebrity you've ever played at PUBG?
I'd say Rampage Jackson.
And you won I take it?
I won a couple of his games, he won a couple and knocked me out a few times. I won more games overall. I'm too good.
On your Twitch bio you mention that upon retirement from MMA you'd like to pursue videogame livestreaming on a professional basis. Is this still something you're interested in?
Yeah, livestreaming is something I'd love to pick up when I retire. The thing about mixed martial arts is that you can only do it for so long before your body gives out.
If I'm streaming and entertaining, you can do that forever—so long as your mind is clear, your brain is switched on, and you want to entertain. I don't see why not, I can provide some on-air talent, play some games and we can take it from.
I take it you don't plan to retire from MMA any time soon, though.
No, I'm not going to retire soon. When the time comes, if I have teammates that I can help get to this level of professionalism, yeah, I'll stick around and help them. But once I'm done that'll be me.
Thanks so much for your time, Demetrious.
Awesome, thank you, have a wonderful day.