Legends recognize legends, which is why boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard's complimentary tweet of Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson is extremely meaningful.
Sugar Ray Leonard is widely considered one of the Top 10, if not Top 5, boxers of all time and he knows more than most what it takes to be an elite champion. Like Johnson, Leonard suffered losses, but each time, learned from his mistakes and came back stronger.
Mighty Mouse's last loss came in a title fight to then bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz five years ago. He's turned that learning experience into one of the most dominant championship reigns in MMA history. His dominant title defense over Wilson Reis at UFC on Fox 24 tied Johnson with Anderson Silva for most consecutive UFC title defenses.
That sustained dominance gained praise for Johnson, but none higher than the Ray Leonard tweet.
Johnson showed his appreciation by responding to Leonard on Twitter.
It's not often you see boxing legends keep a keen eye on MMA, let alone a non-PPV fight. That just shows the importance of what Demetrious Johnson has been able to accomplish during his run through the flyweight division.
All of the talks now turn toward Johnson's next opponent. Many speculate that bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt will drop ten pounds to challenge Mighty Mouse and complicate the record-setting bout, but before that can happen, Cody has to worry about getting past former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw.
Regardless of opponent, Johnson's next title fight will be the biggest of his career. An 11th title defense would pass Anderson Silva, making Johnson the best UFC champion of all time. Until then, the praise from combat sports legends will only add to Johnson's drive.