In recent weeks, a hypothetical superfight between Demetrious Johnson and Cody Garbrandt has become a hot topic in the MMA community.
That chatter intensified when Garbrandt, who only recently captured bantamweight gold with a victory over Dominick Cruz in December, said he’d consider dropping to 125 pounds to challenge for Johnson’s title.
“That’s my thing. I’d rather go down before I go up,” Garbrandt said recently. “Demetrious has a fight with Wilson Reis in the not too distant future. That’s coming up. He’ll tie Anderson Silva’s record, and his next fight would be the all-time record. So he has all that going. He’s going after a huge record. Make him earn it [against] a worthy opponent right here.”
As he usually does, Johnson handled his business in the UFC on Fox 24 headliner on Saturday night, submitting Reis with an armbar 4:49 into the third round of their bout at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. That victory tied Silva for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. Johnson is more than willing to fight Garbrandt, but only on his terms as longstanding champion.
“The whole game with Cody, I’m not really worried about it. I’ve never turned anybody down to come to my weight class,” Johnson said. “I’ve have nothing but love for the guy, but he just won a belt. I’ve defended it 10 times, I’ve been in this sport longer than he has. If he comes down and wants to fight at 125, we welcome that. But he doesn’t get to dictate — well maybe, I don’t know, maybe he does get to dictate according to Dana White — I don’t know. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Cody comes down to 125 and the UFC deems him ready for a title shot, perfect. We can get him up.”
For now, Garbrandt has a title defense of his own lined up at 135 pounds against fellow “TUF 25” coach T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 213 in July. Johnson also points out that the bantamweight division still has plenty of challenges beyond that, making it unlikely that his record breaking title defense would come against Garbrandt.
“They just signed a new 135-er Marlon Moraes. And Dominick Cruz is still there. I’m just focused on making history, going for 11 title defenses. Then I have options,” Johnson said. “Then I can decide, maybe I’ll go up to  and fight him for his belt. You just keep on defending your belt, you get three or four title defenses, and I’ll come up. Then I’ll fight you. You don’t have to worry about cutting 10 more pounds. Unless you want to, then that’s fine too.”
Johnson has been seeking a seven-figure payday for a while now. He believes that is accomplishments — which rank him among the sport’s all-time greats — and his lack of drama outside the Octagon have him in line for a raise.
“I’m straight up and honest. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m a great company guy. I don’t bash my company. I don’t bash my opponents. Never miss weight. Never done any drugs. Not at home beating my wife, crashing my car, doing cocaine, all of that stuff,” Johnson said. “I’m not asking for a lot. All I do is go home, drink beer and play video games, that’s all I do — and change diapers. That’s all I do.”
UFC President Dana White had no trouble placing Johnson’s resume in a historical context.
“He’s got one more fight and he breaks Anderson Silva’s record.. He’s already the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. He strives to get better each time, and he gets better each time,” White said. “He’s literally destroying people. This kid could be considered the G.O.A.T right now, or give Anderson Silva the true respect, maybe you wait until he actually breaks the record. It’s hard to not call this guy the greatest of all time.”
Whether such praise pads Johnson’s bank account to an appropriate level remains to be seen. Either way, it appears that “Mighty Mouse” has no plans of slowing down — not for a few more title defenses, anyway.
“I think any champion in the UFC or any sport, the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were together, they wanted to try to get as many championships as they could. ….For me I got 10, I can take this belt home,” Johnson said. “Hopefully next time I fight I can break it. I might go for 13 or 14, why not set the bar high? Usain Bolt, he’s the fastest man on land. I’m the fastest man in mixed martial arts. I’m gonna keep on proving that, and hopefully I can set it to like 15. Then I’ll retire.”