Tonight in Kansas City, Demetrious Johnson will take to the octagon with a pair of Brazilian’s on his mind.
First and, obviously, foremost in his thoughts will be Wilson Reis, his actual opponent and the man who will be looking to end his glorious reign as UFC flyweight champion. Reis, 5-1 as a flyweight in the UFC, has won three straight contests to earn himself this crack at the title and he is a dangerous foe.
The other son of Brazil that will occupy at least some space in Johnson’s mind is Anderson Silva, the former UFC middleweight champion. Silva won the promotion’s 185-pound strap with a devastating stoppage win over Rich Franklin in October 2006 and didn’t lose it until July of 2013, when Chris Weidman punished him for years of taunting showmanship with a pinpoint accurate shot at UFC 162. In the intervening period, Silva made a record 10 successful defences of the crown, establishing his title reign as the undisputed greatest in UFC history.
If he tops Reis at UFC on Fox 24, however, Johnson will tie Silva for the most UFC title defences.
It will be a nice accolade to claim, but it’s unlikely to change much for Johnson. The media and hardcore fans already know how good ‘Mighty Mouse’ is, but equaling Silva’s record is unlikely to endear him to a casual audience who just haven’t shown a huge interest in the diminutive all-rounder. In short, the record won’t add any zeroes to the end of Johnson’s pay-checks.
What might do that, however, is a super-fight.
Recently, UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt expressed an interest in facing Johnson, quite surprisingly suggesting that he could cut the extra 10lbs needed to get down to flyweight and challenge for the strap.
“I can beat that dude for sure,” Garbrandt told Aubrey Marcus. “I can go to [125lbs] for sure.”
“Now, Demetrious, he’s the pound-for-pound best, incredible fighter, great human. I like him a lot, him and his family. But for me, it’s a legacy that I set out to build. Friendships are friendships, but it’s business at the end of the day, and I think that I can go on as a huge fight, especially for that division. It’s kind of lackluster a lot(Transcription via FloCombat).”
And Johnson is all for a battle with Garbrandt.
Speaking with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, the 125-pound kingpin said that he is open to doing it at flyweight but that he is also willing to jump up in weight and save Garbrandt the dicey cut. Johnson added that he feels the fight is more compelling at 135lbs.
“They’re both compelling, but for me, I’d just go up,” said Johnson. “That way, if I win, I get his belt. I can stay at [135lbs]. For him to come down to [125lbs] and he wins, does he keep the belt or does he relinquish it? Because if he comes down and beats me (and return to bantamweight), then I’ll just fight for the belt again and get it back. Like, ‘Thanks!’ But yeah, it’s a great fight, and if it happens, it happens(via BloodyElbow).”
Johnson had a good run at bantamweight when he first arrived in the UFC, culminating in a challenge for the title. However, he lost out to then champion Dominick Cruz via unanimous decision at UFC on Versus 6 in October 2011.
Before a fight between Garbrandt and Johnson can happen, though, both men have assignments to take care of. Johnson has Reis tonight and Garbrandt faces former teammate turned bitter rival T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 213 in July.