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For Demetrious Johnson's head coach, PED users have no place in GOAT discussions

When it comes to G.O.A.T. discussions in MMA, Demetrious Johnson’s name is certainly in the hat. But it’s commonly listed alongside the likes of former champions like Jon Jones and Anderson Silva.

If Johnson beats Ray Borg at this Saturday’s UFC 216, as we know, he’ll break Silva’s longstanding record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. But, for Johnson’s head coach Matt Hume, that’s not the only thing that makes the UFC’s first and only flyweight champion a standout in the sport.

Unlike Silva and Jones, who have both failed doping exams in their UFC careers, the 125-pound kingpin has a squeaky clean sheet. And while Hume wouldn’t direct his stern words toward anyone specific, he did not wince when asked if a PED failure should disqualify fighters from discussion as Greatest Of All Time.

“Yes, of course,” Hume told reporters on Thursday. “Because if you have a PED failure, then the things you have done before were on PEDs. If you’re going to count that – you don’t know when he was, when he wasn’t. With anyone. I’m not just singling out Jon Jones. But I’m saying that anyone who’s taken drugs to accomplish their goals.

“Are we just going to then open it up and say, ‘Let’s see what Demetrious Johnson would do with PEDs in his system?’ Because then we could compare him to those guys. But he’s done more than any of the guys and he’s beaten guys who were on PEDs in title fights – who tested positive later.

“And he’s done all that without taking anything. And he never will. He doesn’t even do supplements. So yes, if people are taking things that they shouldn’t be taking to help their performances, then it doesn’t count against guys like Demetrious Johnson – who do it clean.”

While Silva was suspended in 2015 after testing positive for drostanolone metabolites and methyl androstane, a form of endogenous testosterone, he maintained throughout he never took PEDs – pointing to an off-brand sexual enhancement drug as the cause for his bust. He caught a one-year hook for it.

Jones, who was stripped of the 205-pound title after testing positive for the steroid turinabol, has also vehemently denied using steroids. He’d previously tested positive for two banned estrogen blockers, but, like Silva, pointed to a tainted sexual enhancement pill for the situation. After the commission decided he hadn’t taken the drug intentionally, he was also suspended for one year.

While all-time best discussions are bound to remain subjective for the foreseeable future, fact is that an 11th straight title defense would solidify Johnson’s name in the sport’s history. But, in order for that to happen, he must first win the pay-per-view co-headliner of Saturday’s event at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC), who hasn’t lost an MMA bout since a 135-pound encounter with former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in 2011, is a heavy favorite against Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) – who, in turn, comes off consecutive wins over gifted grapplers Louis Smolka and Jussier Formiga.

But, despite the odds, Hume insists they are not overlooking the 24-year-old title challenger.

“(Borg) is fast,” Hume said. “And when he throws his punches, he throws everything into them. He’s a good grappler. He’s good at taking the back – I’ve seen him outgrapple some black belts. So he mixes it up very well. And athletically, he’s very talented. So we’re not taking him lightly at all.”

When it comes to Borg’s own firm belief that he’s better at scrambles than Johnson, Hume’s sincere smile would have sufficed. But he was still kind enough to offer a follow-up.

“No, he’s not better in scrambles than Demetrious, let’s put it that way,” Hume said. “He can be wrong on that one. He’s a great fighter, he’s got a lot of attributes. But none of them are better than Demetrious’.”

If you ask Johnson about his own achievements, you’re likely to get a humble, measured response. Quite often, he points to himself as mostly a hard worker. But if his pupil won’t brag about himself, Hume will do it for him.

“I’ve always said – to be a champion takes everything,” Hume said. “You have to have the mentality. You have to have the work ethic. You have to have the athleticism, you have to have the technique. You have to have all the intangibles that go along with it.

“And then to be the greatest champion in the history of the sport, you have to magnify that. So, it would be an understatement to say it’s just hard work.”

To hear from Hume, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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