Champ Demetrious Johnson wants to break Anderson Silva’s title defense record, open to any flyweight challengers next

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Demetrious Johnson

Demetrious Johnson scored his eighth straight title defense on Saturday night, taking out Henry Cejudo in the first round at UFC 197.

The UFC Flyweight Champion has definitely cleared out his division, and though the UFC isn’t entirely sure what they want to do with him next – the flyweight season of TUF they planned for the fall is in flux – Johnson said after the event that his current short term goal remains what it’s been for some time: Anderson Silva’s record of ten consecutive title defenses.

“My biggest goal is to break that title defense [record] of Anderson Silva, and I believe I can do it,” Johnson responded at the post-fight press conference when conversation of a rematch with Bantamweight Champ Dominick Cruz was broached (transcribed by “So for me to go off and detour, it’s going to have to really make me want to do it.”

That was very clearly a call for a significantly higher payday for that fight, but he made it clear that he’s still got plenty left to do at flyweight, and isn’t concerned at all that it would mean a string of fights with challengers he’s already defeated.

“I don’t think I’ve hit my peak,” Johnson said. “I went through a lot of stuff in this camp. I had a root canal; I thought I had a stomach ulcer, did testing. But my coaches are always pushing me to become a better martial artist. Hopefully, I get back to the gym and get my blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and keep on chugging along. This is just No. 8. When it’s time for No. 9, be humble in defeat or victory.

“…When I truly say this is how I pay my bills, I take that very seriously. I don’t care if it’s Henry Cejudo for the second time, or Joseph Benavidez for the third time, [John] Dodson the third. I don’t need any motivation. Last time I checked, these [fights] pay the electricity bill. So, I want to keep the lights on.”

Penick’s Analysis: Despite many – including a number of those in the UFC – considering Johnson the best pound for pound fighter in the sport, that hasn’t translated to the type of balance in his bank account he feels he deserves. He doesn’t sell enough on his own for big pay-per-view drawing money, and the UFC doesn’t just pay more out of their own benevolence, so with that in mind it almost doesn’t matter who they’re going to book him against if it won’t affect his paycheck anyway. He’s clearly the best fighter in the division, and if he’s going to keep getting paid where he’s at, he might as well try to break records in the process.

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