Demetrious Johnson Believes Pettis-Cejudo Winner at UFC 218 is Flyweight No. 1 Contender

By Tristen Critchfield Oct 4, 2017

Demetrious Johnson doesn’t plan on putting in a full night’s work against Ray Borg in order to break the record for most successful title defenses at UFC 216 on Saturday.

“I’m going for a finish. I’ve worked way too hard for these last 12 weeks to have it go to the judges,” Johnson said on the UFC “Unfiltered” podcast. “I predict four rounds. I give myself four rounds.”

The flyweight title bout was delayed approximately one month when Borg pulled out of previous bout against Johnson — scheduled to headlined UFC 215 — a few days prior to the event due to illness. Still, that hasn’t dampened Johnson’s enthusiasm to potentially set a record. “Mighty Mouse’s” 10 flyweight title defenses currently ties him with Anderson Silva for the most in the history of the Las Vegas-based promotion.

“Nobody’s ever set this record before. Why not try to get this record with all the history? A lot of people just overlook all the good things and all the hard work people do,” Johnson said. “This is a good accomplishment for my career and I’m looking forward to going out there and capturing it.”

Considering his dominance in the division, most Johnson fights feel like a foregone conclusion. As a result, the AMC Pankration product is often asked to look ahead to the next challenge. At the moment, he believes the UFC 218 contest between Henry Cejudo and Sergio Pettis could spawn the next title challenger at 125 pounds.

“I think [Pettis vs. Cejudo] is a No. 1 contender fight with Joseph [Benavidez] still being injured,” Johnson said. “Henry Cejudo…..he just got back in the win column. Sergio Pettis is on a four fight win streak, which is deemed [worthy] for a title shot in my opinion. He’s looking good, young healthy. So yeah, I love that fight.”

Johnson already owns a triumph over Cejudo after stopping the Olympic gold medalist in the first round at UFC 197. However, Cejudo appears to have made vast improvements in his last two Octagon appearances, a contentious split-decision defeat to Benavidez and a dominant second-round stoppage of former title challenger Wilson Reis. Johnson has recognized Cejudo’s progression.

“His last fight against Joseph Benavidez was real close. It could have gone either way. I thought Henry won that fight,” Johnson said. “And taking out Wilson Reis, he looked good.”

If Johnson’s next bout doesn’t come against the current batch of flyweight contenders, there are other options. Reigning bantamweight king Cody Garbrandt has expressed interest in a potential superfight with Johnson and has even been willing to explore the possibilities of moving down to 125 pounds. While Johnson balked at a flyweight matchup with ex-bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw earlier this year, he has spoken to Garbrandt and appears open to a future showdown with “No Love.” First, Garbrandt must defend his belt against Dillashaw at UFC 217 on Nov. 4.

“That’s definitely a fight that we could look at..I just talked to Cody [recently] about that stuff,” Johnson said. “We’re on board with it and we’ll see what happens. He’s focused on T.J. Dillashaw right now, and then he said, ‘I’ve got to see what’s next after that.’ We’ll see what happens.”


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