If Demetrious Johnson goes out and defends the flyweight title tonight for a jaw dropping, 12th time, you know calls for a superfight with the winner of TJ Dillashaw – Cody Garbrandt are going to spike. But is the flyweight king overly interested? It doesn’t sound like it.
Johnson is going to fight Henry Cejudo tonight at UFC 227, in what will serve as the card’s co-main event. For months, Dillashaw campaigned for a scrap with Johnson, over an immediate rematch with Garbrandt (which goes tonight in the headliner). At first, Johnson argued that Dillashaw needed to earn a shot at the 125 belt. Then, eventually, Johnson came around to the idea, provided the fight landed on a huge card. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
But, talk about Dillashaw moving down to face Johnson has never gone away. Garbrandt has also repeatedly said he’s interested in dropping to 125 to face Johnson as well. Recently Johnson spoke with MMA Junkie, and when he was asked whether he thinks the bantamweight champ should be able to slide right into a title fight with him, he said this:
“It’s not for me to say,” Johnson said. “If it was for me to say, I’d say, ‘Get in line like everyone else – there are people out here working hard in this division.’
“It’s not like (Dillashaw and Garbrandt) don’t have opponents. You’ve got Marlon Moraes. You’ve got Raphael Assuncao, who’s only lost once in the bantamweight division. I look at my division like it’s a sport where you’re actually fighting the No. 1 contender – that’s why I’m fighting Henry Cejudo again. I’m the only champion who’s had so many rematches because I’m consistently fighting the No. 1 contender.”
So, ya. It would be pretty surprising if Johnson started yelling for a bout with either Dillashaw or Garbrandt, at least at flyweight anyways, provided he wins tonight.
At the end of the day, however, if the UFC really pushes for this, Johnson may have to get on board. While I personally admire his purist / meritocratic view of the title shot picture, there aren’t a lot of big fights for Johnson right now at 125, aside from one with the bantamweight champ.
It’s important to remember that this is an organization that is giving Brock Lesnar a crack at the heavyweight title, so clearly the UFC doesn’t share the ‘get in line’ opinion.