Demetrious Johnson- Quality or Quantity?
Newsflash: Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones are finally set to face one another again in a bout that saved UFC 200. Perhaps more interesting at the moment though is the UFC’s situation at Flyweight.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is only three wins away from beating Anderson Silva’s overall title defense record with 11. What’s more important: the record or a challenging fight? That question is not meant to disparage the others in the division but with Olympic wrestler Henry Cejudo out of the way (by technical knockout in under three minutes no less,) Johnson continuing at 125 pounds is like lapping your younger brother in a game of Mario Kart.
He already holds victories over: Ian McCall (1 draw), Ali Bagautinov, Joseph Benavidez (2), and John Dodson (2). With the current plan for The Ultimate Fighter: Season 24 being that the winner of the tournament gets a crack at the division’s strap, it appears that the current roster in the weight class is divided between those already named and everyone else.
While some might complain about an outsider receiving a title shot, if the UFC felt the Flyweights were so deep as to not need the plan for TUF 24 don’t you think they’d be pursuing that option with a fighter already under contract?
In a business where dollars mean as much as fighting itself, the fork in the road that Johnson is at has two interesting paths and the promotional work for either one practically writes itself.
TUF 24 route: “A hungry up and comer survives a 16-man tournament to take on one of the pound-for-pound best in the world, the eight-time defending, first UFC Flyweight champion.”
The problem then becomes what you do with the division if/when Johnson defeats the TUF winner.
Return to Bantamweight (135 pounds): A superfight with Dominick Cruz (assuming Johnson doesn’t have to surrender his current belt and that the contest would be champion vs. champion) goes like this:
Cruz: “I’m one of only two men to ever defeat Demetrius and the only one to do it in the UFC…”
Johnson: “It was a decision. This time I won’t leave it up to someone else to decide who the better man is.”
Cruz: “It’s time he faced some real competition. No matter what he says, I beat him once and I’ll do it again.”
There will undoubtedly be objections from the rest of the Bantamweights, but Johnson was 4-1 at 135 in the WEC/UFC before the loss to Cruz so the fact that he’s proven himself at Bantamweight before and his loss to Cruz.
His 10-0-1 record at just ten pounds lower might make a big enough case for Johnson to take on Cruz right away.
My Take: It could be both. I think that 11 title defenses is an accomplishment that he wants under his belt, so don’t expect a move any time soon.
He told Fox Sports in March, “…the other day I woke up weighing 137 (pounds). That’s two pounds,” “But he (Johnson’s coach, Matt Hume) goes ‘there’s bigger things to do DJ’. He said if you can go out there and beat Anderson Silva’s record, that’s big. That’s what my goal is, and that’s where my heart is right now,”