Becoming a father for the first time is an amazing experience for a young man, but it comes at a cost: little to no sleep.
That's usually not a problem, but then, most first-time fathers aren't defending a UFC world title eight days after the birth of their first child.
That, though, is exactly the situation flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson finds himself in. Next week, he may be awaking at 4 a.m. to change diapers and warm up a bottle, but he's getting a little bit of a pass this week.
Johnson will defend his title Saturday against highly regarded challenger John Moraga in the main event of UFC on Fox 8 at Key Arena in Seattle. Johnson is a brilliant athlete who has looked incredible in flyweight bouts against Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson.
It might have been a little much, though, to ask Johnson to sacrifice the kind of sleep a father must give up in that first week and still be at his peak to face a tough guy like Moraga.
So, despite living in the area, Johnson opted to stay at the UFC host hotel in Seattle this week. The result is that he's only missed one day of work since his wife, Destiny, gave birth to Tyren, a six-pound, 12-ounce boy, on July 19.
"I'm lucky because I have a strong wife and she's handled things great," Johnson said.
Johnson laughs at the notion his life was so hectic during Destiny's pregnancy that it negatively impacted his fight preparation. He went with her to all of her doctor's appointments and classes and can't understand why so many expect him to be frazzled and at his wit's end heading into the title fight with Moraga.
In the big picture, he has an unusual job, but fighting is still just a job. Plenty of people, he pointed out, have to juggle work with having a baby.
"This is all a part of life and it's not like having a baby is a problem or some unusual thing," Johnson said. "You have to have a little planning and things are fine. Having a baby is one of the great experiences in life and we both enjoyed it the entire way.
"It was so awesome to be [in the delivery room] and to see our child born. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. There's no feeling that could match that. After the baby was born, I have to do what millions of fathers before me have had to do, and that's go get back to work."
A win over Moraga won't be easy. Moraga has one-punch knockout power and is a quality, aggressive wrestler. But since moving to his natural weight at 125 pounds, Johnson has proven he's among the elite fighters in the world.
If he does come out successful, he may make a little news at the post-fight press conference. Johnson said he might want to make a second run at the UFC bantamweight title.
Johnson lost to champion Dominick Cruz on Oct. 1, 2011, in a fast-paced, quality match that turned out to be Cruz's last fight. Cruz has suffered a series of knee injuries and hasn't fought since. He's just now rounding into shape.
The interest in the flyweight division seems to lag behind that of the others, which UFC president Dana White attributed to building the division.
Moraga is fighting for the belt, even though he has never fought on television in either of his two UFC fights. A large portion of the several million who will tune in to watch the fight on Fox on Saturday will be learning about Moraga for the first time.
The biggest fights are generally between fighters who are well known to the public. White refers to champions from different divisions who fight each other as "super fights" and Johnson is of a mind to seek out a super fight of his own.
Should he get past Moraga, with no obvious big-name at 125 to fight on the horizon, Johnson said a run at the bantamweight title could make sense.
"After this fight, I'll elaborate a little more, but I'm always looking for new challenges in my career," Johnson said. "I think I did pretty well at bantamweight even though I was a smaller guy. And I think since my time at bantamweight, I've improved a lot as a fighter.
"I wouldn't mind going out there and challenging, and having a super fight there. I know Dominick Cruz and [interim bantamweight champion] Renan Barao have to work out their whole situation, but … I wouldn't mind fighting again back at 135 and trying to become a two-divisional champ."
If he gets the shot – and that's probably at least nine months to a year away, if White would even agree to it – one thing is certain: Things will be a little less hectic, and a lot more restful, for Johnson prior to that bout.
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