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Veteran UFC lightweight Michael Johnson wants top guys if he moves to featherweight


UFC lightweight Michael Johnson doesn’t have time to waste if he moves down to featherweight.

“The guys need to be in the top 10,” Johnson on Wednesday told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’ve fought so many people at 155 (pounds) over and over again, it’s almost a waste of time. I can’t do it at 145.

“I’m 31. I’m not at a point where I want to fight everybody in the 145-pound division. I need to fight the top guys, get in there and get out, and get my title shot.”

So far, Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC) is still waiting for the UFC’s first offer. Although he went big with his first callout and targeted Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC), the former featherweight champ appears headed for a rematch against onetime title challenger Ricardo Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) at UFC 218 or 219.

Johnson would rather the promotion book him against a known commodity at 145 pounds than run back previous matchups.

“I think we’ve gotten to a time where everybody at the top of the 145-pound division has fought each other,” Johnson said. “Nobody wants to see those rematches down there. So a new face, a new look, some new excitement at 145 sounds perfect.”

Johnson, the No. 12 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, shrugged off any suggestion of a tough transition to featherweight. He said he walked around at 163 pounds during his previous training camp and could easily shed the additional weight.

“I’m a professional,” he said. “The first thing we have to do as professionals is make weight. That’s part of the game. If you’re missing weight, you’re not clocking in. I hold myself very high in winning that first battle and making weight.”

Johnson’s next battle is reviving his UFC career. Although he’s faced mostly top competition, he is 1-4 in his past five outings. A new division offers to turn a new page in the octagon.

“I could fight this weekend if there were a fight card and I needed to, but December is a perfect timeline for me,” Johnson said. “Anywhere from next month to December, I’ll be ready.”

Now, Johnson just wants the promotion to take into consideration his experience when booking his next fight. And that means starting him toward the top of the heap.

After all, he’s been right there in a division that’s arguably tougher.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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