Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson is the UFC's flyweight champion and arguably one of the greatest fighters on Earth. He blends speed and technique in ways that will make your eyes say, "huminahuminahwhaat?" Naturally, he wants to play video games for a living. Speaking on a recent episode of the Three Amigos Podcast (as transcribed by Bloody Elbow), Johnson discussed growing up with video games and how he's recently turned that into a fairly successful Twitch streaming venture. Despite a rigorous training schedule (most MMA fighters train around 6-8 hours a day, six days a week), he finds time to stream about 15 hours per week. Sometimes he gets interrupted by mandatory UFC drug tests, but he just keeps on trucking. He is, in other words, pretty dedicated. Reason being, he wants to turn it into a full-time career once the dual vampires of time and decay come for his reflexes and ability to eat punches like a better-than-expected hotel continental breakfast. He explained:
I heard you could watch people play video games, and that's how I discovered Twitch. This is when I had Tyren, who is now two and a half years old. I would rock him to sleep at night, and he would take a while, so I downloaded the Twitch app to watch. I saw guys playing games I grew up with like Mega Man X and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. So after some time I started streaming some games on my PS4. I'd have like two viewers in there as I played Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn.
Next thing you know, my wife was like, 'You should get into it baby, what do you want to do after you're done fighting? Why don't you try streaming?' Then Twitch reached out to me and told me everything I needed to get to be a serious streamer. All of the credit goes to my wife, she's the one who suggested I do it. I decided if I was going to do it, I had to be 100% in. I didn't want to do it half-assed and try to stream from my PS4 or Xbox One, so I bought a computer and she was all in, so I was like, 'Let's do it.'
As the laundry list of title challengers he's obliterated know, once Mighty Mouse sets his heart on something, he doesn't mess around. It's how he treats fighting, and now, he says, it's how he treats streaming as well. "Since I've started streaming I spend at least 15 hours a week playing games, maybe more," he said. "My brain needs to be stimulated. I look at streaming like a side project, and I take my side projects and my jobs very seriously." These days, he plays everything from Bloodborne, to Overwatch, to Destiny, to Final Fantasy XIV, to Street Fighter. Also EA's UFC game, sometimes.
Johnson is hardly the only high-profile MMA fighter who streams video games. Most notoriously, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson -- currently embroiled in a contract dispute and unable to fight -- spends a lot of his time streaming and, er, drunk dialling other fighters to get a rise out of his Twitch audience. On stream, he's raucous, weird, funny and occasionally insightful. Also he complains a bunch when he loses. Quintessential Rampage, in other words.
He's also locked in a bitter (read: mostly friendly) rivalry with Mighty Mouse, who related an anecdote about their ongoing game of in-game oneupmanship:
Rampage and I kind of have a little duel going on. He likes to play Rainbow Six: Siege and every once in a while Team Rampage will play Mighty Squad and we'll double stream it and have a good time.
If you go by kills, I'm better than Rampage. I'm a beast, just to be honest. If you go with who has a higher rank and puts more time in, Rampage is better. It's one of his favourite games and he plays it a lot. It's not a Rambo style game, you board up a room and camp and wait for someone to come, then you shoot them.
The last time a game got my heart rate up was playing Rainbow Six against Rampage. I was actually sweating. My wife was watching, asking why I was so tense. I was like, 'Because I'm playing against Rampage with Mighty Squad! Reputations are on the line, baby!'
There's some trash talk when I play Rampage, I'll see him and be like, 'I see his black ass!' and it goes back and forth. It's good times, and it's good for our communities as well.
There's a serious side to Mighty Mouse's venture, though. The fact is, it's tough for many fighters to find good work after their fleeting time in the spotlight. Sure, some fighters -- big names like Chuck Liddell and smooth talkers like Kenny Florian -- can find work doing commentary or odd-jobs within the UFC, but others have a tough time even cutting it as coaches. It's not uncommon to see older "retired" fighters make ill-advised comebacks for one last payday, and the result is often ugly, verging on nauseating. Hint: they tend to lose, usually by a knockout with the words "brain damage" written all over it.
Mighty Mouse has always been pretty conscious of how much MMA can mess with your long-term health. He's a smart dude. It shows in his fighting style and in his post-MMA career aspirations. He might be on top of the UFC's flyweight division right now, but he's already planning for the future.
"You have to think about what you're going to do after your career," he said. "I've always thought about going back to work at a warehouse or whatever I need to do to make ends meet, but now streaming and video gaming is just kicking off. All I care about is the next game coming out next month. I'm still fighting, I'm in the prime of my career and train my ass off every single day, but I'm starting my second career now. Why not? I'm building my viewership and community now, so when I'm 38 years old and I'm done fighting I can have streaming as my main source of income, hopefully."
Last image courtesy of Cage Pound.