Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson broke the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history last weekend in style with one of the most audacious submissions ever seen in the Octagon, leading to more calls for him to move up for a superfight at bantamweight.
However, ‘Mighty’ sounds like he’s in no hurry to move outside of the division he rules over unless the UFC makes it worth his while.
“Staying at 125,” Johnson told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour when asked what comes next for the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport. “It was the easiest weight cut I ever had (at UFC 216). I mean, I woke up this morning at 138 pounds and I had a delicious chocolate stout, I had a bowl of cereal after. I’m just a small guy. I saw my boy, (UFC bantamweight) ‘Funkmaster’ Aljamain Sterling, he said, ‘Man, I just broke 160 pounds.’ And to me, I’m like, ‘Jesus, you are a big dude, my friend.’ So going up to that weight class, obviously I want to be well compensated.”
That means dream fights with the likes of bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt and former titleholder TJ Dillashaw could be on the backburner for the forseeable future unless the UFC breaks out their cheque book to convince him it’s worth the risk.
“Make it worth my while. Show me the money. These guys are taking concussions. Like I said after the fight, I’m not in the business to get concussions. I do not like getting hit. I can take a hit, but I don’t want to damage my brain if I don’t have to.”
Nevertheless, ‘Mighty’ still believes there’s a number of big fights for him at 125lbs too as he looks to extend his unbeaten record even further.
“So obviously there’s fights at 125 that seem appealing. Sergio Pettis is a hot prospect. Henry Cejudo looked good in his last fight. I know Joseph Benavidez is getting healthy again. So I don’t know see why I would leave when I just cemented this legacy. Why not set it to 15 (title defenses)?
“There’s going to come another guy down the road who’s going to be aiming for my record, so my job is to set the bar high. And Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she’s at six. So you know what, she might want to keep on going and try to break my record, and I can’t allow that. So I’ve got to set the bar higher, that why she’s like, ‘F*ck that, I’m not going to go for 20. I’m done. I did eight or nine, I’m done.’”