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Coach: Demetrious Johnson's 11th UFC title defense will be 'biggest thing in combat sports'


EDMONTON – Demetrious Johnson’s head coach, Matt Hume, says it’s always been the plan to set the UFC record for most consecutive title defenses. Now that the opportunity is here, though, he’s not allowing himself or his fighter to get caught up in the moment.

“A long time ago we planned for this,” Hume told MMAjunkie. “When we first started, we planned for this. It would have been arrogant to say that back then, but we’re exactly where we want to be. The game plan is moving forward and progressing, but we’re not done after this one, either.”

Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) will attempt to make a record 11th consecutive UFC title defense on Saturday against Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the UFC 215 main event, which goes down at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

“Mighty Mouse” is currently tied with Anderson Silva for the longest defense streak in company history but can make the record all his own if he defeats Borg. It’s a monumental moment in his career, but coach Hume said they’re not playing it up that way.

“It’s a big one. It’s huge,” Hume said. “It’s the biggest thing in combat sports right now, the 11th straight consecutive title defense. It breaks Anderson Silva’s record, which he’s tied with right now. We have to just think about it as another fight. We can’t change. We’ve been successful for 10 in a row, and we’re going to do the same thing in this one. After, we’ll reflect on the magnitude of what happens.”

Johnson, No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA pound-for-pound rankings and No. 1 at flyweight, has been accompanied by Hume throughout his journey into the UFC record books. Johnson has never veered from his mentor, sticking true to their method of keeping a tightly knit training camp at AMC Kickboxing & Pankration in Kirkland, Wash.

Hume said Johnson’s loyalty is second to none. And because of that he’s been able to develop a fighter with a rarely seen level of success.

“I’m the only coach that he’s ever been with,” Hume said. “I’ve been able to create him and mold him. He doesn’t go to a boxing coach here or a wrestling coach here or all those things where there’s a disconnect between what he’s learning. He learns it all under me, all under AMC. We’ve never brought in a sparring partner. It just works. We can instill our knowledge into DJ and work on it for years and years and years with a long-range goal. That’s what you see today with DJ.”

Although a victory at UFC 215 would represent a special benchmark, Hume said it hardly represents the apex of Johnson’s journey. The coach and fighter hope to accomplish far more in the sport, and they won’t settle with just breaking the record. They want to smash it.

“I want to see him become the greatest martial artist that he can be,” Hume said. “At this point that is the best martial artist in the history of the sport. I want to see him go further with that. I want to see him keep developing, and I want to see him get to the point where everyone else in the game is learning things from just watching him.”

Standing in the way of Johnson’s shot at history, though, is No. 5-ranked flyweight Borg. The 24-year-old challenger brings the utmost confidence into his title shot, even claiming he’s going to retire Johnson. Hume laughed off that statement and said it’s “not going to happen,” but he did give Borg credit as a legitimate challenger.

“Ray Borg is very explosive and fast,” Hume said. “He’s got a good mix of skills. He’s a hungry, young guy. Everybody brings something different. I’m sure (Greg) Jackson has watched video, and he’s got a game plan for Ray Borg, and he’s going to bring it. What he does different? We’ll find out, but different would be beating DJ, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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