While wrestling has been a tradition in gaming for decades, mixed martial arts has still been growing in bringing the popular sport over to games, with the latest iteration of the sport heading to consoles next year.
During a reveal event for the upcoming EA Sports UFC 3 in New York City, DualShockers had the opportunity to speak with the one-and-only Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, the famed mixed martial artist and current Flyweight Champion of UFC with a record setting eleven title defenses in his career with the UFC.
Alongside the chance to check out the game in-person, we talked to Johnson for a better look at his involvement with the upcoming game and helping to bring his signature moves into UFC 3, and also giving us some insight into his hobbies of playing games and building up his own Twitch channel and streaming.
Al: We’re here with Demetrious Johnson; the Champ, some say pound-for-pound the best UFC fighter, and I’ve gotta agree. Eleven times defending your title — how does that feel?
Demetrious Johnson: It feels great! It feels great, you know: I mean, we set a goal to do it and we accomplished it, and now we’re just relaxing and checking out the new UFC 3 game and I’m just hanging back with my wife in New York.
A: That’s always a good time. One thing I gotta say: you mentioned your wife — I know you’re a big family man, I was actually watching you with Ariel Helwani, and you actually took a break to drop your kids off at school and hats off to you brother, I thought that was awesome. I was like “Yo this guy’s the real deal: he’s a champ, a family man, and a gamer,” so you hit all three spots with me.
DJ: Got it all covered.
AZ: All covered, brother. So, we’re checking out UFC 3 obviously – you got the Mighty Wiz-Bar in there, how does that feel? Now that’s gotta be an accomplishment.
DJ: That feels good, you know obviously the creative director and the motion capture guys [at EA], they’re trying to do everything that they’ve seen or they’ve put into the game. But it’s almost like I’m the producer, and I was like “Yo, you all need to get this move in there; I’ll show you how to do it.”
There’s literally so many things that I can probably show the motion capture guys, I’ll be like “Look at this submission.” I mean that’s the thing, you know what I mean? If you want to capture the authenticity of it, you need an actual fighter on your team to do it, because I’ll show them the moves.
But it’s good – I talked to the motion capture people, and they made it happen.
A: Now obviously you’re a talented fighter, but you’re also an avid gamer, which I respect. And you’re not like one of these guys whose just playing; you’re legit. You’ve actually said that you want to separate the two: the fighting realm and the gaming realm.
DJ: Yep, absolutely. That’s one of the biggest things, I’m streaming on Twitch and it might hinder me, it might hinder my growth on my channel. But I’m being authentic, I’m like “dude, I’m playing games, I don’t want to f***ing talk about fighting.” I don’t care who’s next, I’m not even worrying about my next fight.
A: Listen, I got to get that Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, baby.
DJ: Exactly, you know I focus on THIS. And it was funny because the last time that I streamed, which was probably before I came out here [for this event], I literally broke down why I don’t talk about fighting — why I can’t pick and choose a fight or give an answer on who’s gonna win. And it was literally like a 15-minute spiel.
And they can take it or leave it; I’m sure it will surface somewhere on the Internet or YouTube eventually, but that’s why I’m not gonna do it. Because I don’t want to sit here and argue with somebody why he thinks Conor McGregor’s gonna beat Tony Ferguson. I’m not gonna waste my f***ing time — I’m not in their camps, I don’t know what their conditioning is, I’m not gonna do it.
A: And I respect that. Now it’s interesting because you were just at H1ZI doing some Twitch stuff. You see this as kind of an endgame as well, not just a hobby: you’re taking this (possibly) to the next level, hopefully.
DJ: Absolutely, 100 percent. That’s how I want to be: I did my first on-air casting, and they said I did very well. I’m always open for criticism from the pros because that’s what I want to do for a living.
I mean, I’m only gonna be able to fight for so long, and I think I might be able to transition myself out to something else that’s gonna let me continue to grow, and if there’s gonna be space for me: I’m gonna be there when it goes.
A: Now I know you grew up kinda in the ’80s like me – so were you an NES guy or a SEGA guy?
DJ: Yeah yeah, NES and Super Nintendo. I didn’t f*** with Sonic and Tails and Knuckles, I f***ed with Mario, Zelda, Demon’s Crest, all those games.
A: Nice. Now I know you’re a big PUBG fan and you kinda rotate between that and Marvel vs. Capcom, those are your two kinds of Twitch casts and stuff. What else are you kinda currently playing or got your eye on, besides UFC 3 obviously?
DJ: Obviously UFC 3. Dragon Ball FighterZ — that’s probably the one off the top of my head. I mean I played the first Dragon Ball Z: Budokai game on PlayStation 2. Actually, I also played the one that came out for PlayStation — Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout — I played that game.
A: It’s come a long way now.
DJ: It’s come a looooong way now, and this — it’s almost like watching the anime in the f***ing game. And the thing that’s good is that they made it off the Guilty Gear engine, and Guilty Gear is one of the very good fighting games/2D side-scroller fighting games. And I mean — that’s one of the games I’m gonna get my hands on. I’m actually in talks with Bandai Namco, so I’m looking forward to that.
A: So obviously the Twitch thing, the Twitch casting: have you ever thought about doing voice-over work or anything entertainment-involved like that?
DJ: You know I have — I haven’t gotten to that point yet.
A: Ah, you’re busy with UFC…so I understand.
DJ: But see, that’s different – there’s no voiceover, it’s literally motion and that stuff. So, obviously if the opportunity came up that I could do voice casting for that stuff, I’m 100 percent on that, because I saw the guy who did the voice casting for Sigma [in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite], and I was like “Dude, you did an amazing job.”
A: People don’t understand that’s a whole other thing.
DJ: That’s a whole other thing. Yeah, night and day.
UFC 3 will release for PS4 and Xbox One on February 2nd, 2018. For more on the game, you can also read our interview with senior producer Marc De Vellis for more insights on the tech and development of the upcoming fighting game.