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If successful at UFC 216, UFC champ Demetrious Johnson explains who's next


If victorious on Saturday at UFC 216, Demetrious Johnson will have sole possession of the UFC title-defense record with 11. He’ll also have his eye on which opponents could bring him his 12th and 13th title defenses.

In UFC 216’s pay-per-view co-headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, flyweight champ Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) looks for the record when he meets Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC).

The bout, which was rescheduled after Borg fell ill during his UFC 215 weigh cut, could allow Johnson to move past Anderson Silva and set a new record for perhaps MMA’s most prestigious record.

“It would mean the world (to get the title defense record),” Johnson said during a media luncheon on Monday (watch it above). “Obviously there hasn’t been another champion out there to have this many consecutive title defenses year after year.

“It’s not just that; it’s always staying healthy, always improving and trying to go out there and finish my opponents. I’m passing all my drug tests. If I get past this, No. 11, and I’m healthy, I can do another one – maybe 12 or 13 – then we’ll go from there.”

Johnson, who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings (and No. 2 pound-for-pound), will have cleaned out most of the division if he gets by No. 5-ranked Borg. But before a possible move up to 135 pounds – he’s thus far put it off because he’s focused on 125 pounds, and because he wants bigger paydays if he moves up – “Mighty Mouse” said his current division has some worth challengers.

Take for instance an upcoming bout between No. 3 Henry Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and No. 6 Sergio Pettis (16-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC), who fight on Dec. 2 at UFC 218. Johnson has a previous win over Cejudo, but Pettis represents a potential fresh challenge.

“I think Sergio Pettis has more of style that will give Henry Cejudo fits because he’s been around the block a little more,” Johnson said. “It’ll be a good fight. I think (the winner is next in line). Obviously Henry Cejudo just came back and got in the winner column. Pettis, he’s on a three-fight win streak, and if he wins this fight, I think he’s the No. 1 contender in the flyweight division. He has four fights in a row.”

And after that? A move to bantamweight is possible, though Johnson eventually realized there could be one more 125-pound opponent: unranked and undefeated Magomed Bibulatov (14-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who meets former title challenger and No. 11-ranked John Moraga (17-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) on Saturday’s UFC 216 early prelims on UFC Fight Pass prelims.

“I can’t think of another athlete – maybe Magomed Bibulatov,” Johnson said. “I can’t think of how many he has in a row, but we’ll see what happens.”

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

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