Demetrious Johnson might have considered himself too blunt to remain an analyst on Fox's UFC broadcasts, but the longtime flyweight champion doesn't mind sharing his opinion about what winning his Saturday night fight on the network might mean.
If Johnson (25-2) can successfully defend his belt against San Diego-trained Wilson Reis in the main event of the card at Kansas City, Mo., which starts at 5 p.m. PDT, he'll match former middleweight champion Anderson Silva's record run of 10 consecutive title defenses.
"Every champion in the UFC would love to accomplish this … [winning] signifies that I'm the best champion the UFC has ever had," Johnson said.
That point may be up for debate given Conor McGregor's recent unprecedented wearing of two belts at once, and the legacy that includes Silva, Randy Couture, B.J. Penn and Chuck Liddell, but Johnson doesn't mind being too bold.
Did he feel restricted in his criticism, perhaps wanting to identify inadequacies in others who can't match his knowledge, reflexes and tactics?
He said after trying to serve as a studio analyst on Fox, "I kind of put it on the backburner. You can't be yourself. I like to be very honest. I like to talk about fights straight up."
When asked if could be completely honest on television, Johnson said only, "Yeah, but … ."
Nevertheless, in light of his struggle to draw a massive audience on pay-per-view broadcasts with his immense talents, Johnson returns to Fox after beating "The Ultimate Fighter" winner Tim Elliott by unanimous decision in December.
"It's good to do both [network and pay-per-view]," Johnson said. "Of course, I care [about self-branding]. To get millions of viewers on the network is great. Maybe the next time, I bring more attention to my pay-per-view."
Johnson said that he's content to let his talent speak for itself without taking on an MMA educational role on television.
"I do what I do and let it lie," he said. "I'm not here to do … sessions to explain what is great about mixed martial arts. I do that with my fighting. People can either acknowledge that when they see it or they can be naïve."
Johnson, 30, will mark his youngest child's second birthday on fight night when he meets the 32-year-old Reis (22-6), the No. 3-ranked flyweight.
"It's just another fight and every fight is difficult," said Johnson, who has been lured to move up to bantamweight, where former champion Dominick Cruz, who has defeated Johnson, resides along with former champion T.J. Dillashaw and current unbeaten champion Cody Garbrandt.
"I think about it," Johnson said. "Maybe in like three years I'll get tired of cutting all this damn weight."
That may be longer than what most MMA fans would like.
But, with Johnson, you know you're getting the truth.