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Demetrious Johnson is fine being a target for others, but he has UFC history to make first

As UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has compiled win after win and practically wiped out the 125-pound weight class in his quest to make history, he’s become something of a target for top fighters from another division.

First there was bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC), who in March said Johnson should have to fight him to “earn” the UFC record for most consecutive title defenses. Johnson wasn’t surprised by Garbrandt’s talk nor was he completely opposed to the idea of a champion vs. champion superfight.

Then, most recently, there was bantamweight title contender T.J. Dillashaw. After a Garbrandt title fight fell through for UFC 213 in July, former 135-pound champion Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) pushed for a shot at Johnson’s flyweight belt, an idea UFC President Dana White supported. Johnson, however, wasn’t OK with it, citing Dillashaw’s lack of 125-pound experience and noting that, without a belt in his possession, the matchup couldn’t be considered a true superfight.

As Johnson looks back on those callouts from Dillashaw and Garbrandt, he seems amused by them.

“Everybody keeps throwing my name out of their mouth,” Johnson said during a recent conference call. “And for me, I’m just focused on doing what I do best and cleaning out my division. But everybody in the UFC, everybody in the world, they say, ‘He’s the most boring fighter. He doesn’t sell any pay-per-views.’ But everyone keeps wanting to fight me. I don’t understand why they keep saying that.

“That makes me happy that everybody keeps bring up my name. If that was to happen, we’ll all sit down like men and negotiate, whether that would be at 125 or 135, whose title is defended. … It’s all about negotiating.”

In the meantime, though, Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) has business to take care of this week when he takes on Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the pay-per-view headliner for UFC 215, which takes place Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A victory would give Johnson is 11th consecutive title defense to surpass Anderson Silva and claim the UFC record as his own.

Johnson can see himself moving up to 135 at some point in his future. But for now he’s focused on attaining “legendary” status by first breaking and then extending the record to a point it could become untouchable.

“A friend of mine said, ‘You know, 10, that’s attainable. Eleven, that’s attainable.’ He goes, ’15 is (expletive) legendary. Why don’t you just go for 15?’ You know what? Why not?” Johnson sad. “I mean, I’m 31 years old. I feel good. You’ve got a lot of new, young, up-and-coming guys coming into the division. So why not keep on doing it as long as I can? It’s not like 135 is going anywhere.

“When I get to 35, 36, 37 years old, when I’m tired of dieting … then I’ll go to 135. Right now I’m focused on setting the record as high as I can. And then if the money is right, we can go up to 135 and let’s make it happen.”

And for more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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