UFC champ Demetrious Johnson turns his competitive gaze towards esports

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Demetrious Johnson
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (Getty Images)

On October 2, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will compete for a different kind of title: the king of H1Z1.

Johnson must outlast 59 other players, including various esports stars, personalities, streamers, and qualifiers, in the H1Z1 Invitational at TwitchCon. It will be the first real taste of esports competition for the UFC’s current pound-for-pound number one ranked fighter

“H1Z1 is an amazing concept. I love how it’s totally random,” Johnson told Yahoo Esports. “You get dropped into ‘The Jungle’ with nothing and if you get into a fight and lose, you lose everything. That random aspect of the game intrigues me.”

Esports has intrigued other traditional athletes over the past year. Former pros like Rick Fox, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Alex Rodriguez and even the Philadelphia 76ers are invested in various esports teams. Johnson, an avid gamer, is himself interested in the burgeoning esports scene thanks to the competitive nature and strategy involved in games like H1Z1 and his go-to, Street Fighter V, where the diminutive brawler tries to emulate fellow champion, Evo 2016 victor Seon-woo “Infiltration” Lee.

“Street Fighter V is game where you have to have true skill to win,” Johnson said. “I like to play Nash so my favorite team and player is Razer and Infiltration.”

Demetrious Johnson plays fellow champ Dominick Cruz in UFC 2 (Getty Images)
Demetrious Johnson plays fellow champ Dominick Cruz in UFC 2 (Getty Images)

You couldn’t pick a better favorite than the current pound-for-pound number one Street Fighter V player in the world. But while Johnson enjoys watching Infiltration, he laughs off the idea off of actually playing him, calling that type of a challenge “a whole new ballgame.”

While Johnson admires the growth of esports like Dota 2, League of Legends, and Street Fighter V, he isn’t quite ready to jump into the scene as an owner or investor just yet. But he’s certainly open to the opportunities esports might present after he’s done battling in the octagon.

“Esports is growing. The guys investing time and money into esports believe in it,” Johnson said. “If opportunities like H1Z1’s Invitational or promoting or training with Infiltration for Street Fighter V arise, I’d love to be a part of it.”


Michael Martin covers Street Fighter V and the Capcom Pro Tour. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.