Demetrious Johnson on the Next Champion of the Flyweight Division

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For six years, Demetrious Johnson dominated the UFC flyweight division as he outclassed all the contenders who faced him. But because he’s fighting the ONE Championship in Asia now, he’s naming fighters with the best chance to take his spot as King of the Flyweights. In fact, he’s set his sights on one 125-pounder who, according to him, is the man for the job.

Johnson Says Deiveson Figueiredo was ‘That Guy’

Ahead of UFC 277, Demetrious Johnson said that Figueiredo could potentially take his place. He complimented his abilities, saying that he practices good jiu-jitsu and is athletic. Speaking to MMA Fighting, Johnson explained that in his opinion, the only thing lacking was the conditioning, and that Figueiredo faced some challenges in meeting the weight limit.

Moreno, Kara-France and Pantoja Also Notable Candidates

He went on to talk about other fighters as well, saying that Brandon Moreno shows some good footwork and has quick movements. For Johnson, it would be either Moreno or Figueiredo, but Kara-France also shows some skills. Besides them, he mentioned Alexandre Pantoja, who is the frontrunner in his opinion.

Johnson’s Streak – A Difficult One to Beat

Demetrious Johnson owns the record for the greatest number of title defenses in the history of the UFC. He has 11 wins to his name, as he defended the title against fighters such as Ray Borg, Joseph Benavidez, Kyoji Horiguchi, and Henry Cejudo from 2012 towards 2018. 

His expectations were that the Figueiredo, the current UFC flyweight champ, would go on a long streak, but this was before he lost to Moreno. While Figueiredo reclaimed the title after a victory at UFC 270, the streak had been lost.

UFC’s Decision to Exclude Pantoja from Interim Title Fight

Although Johnson understands the need for an interim title fight, he expressed disagreement over the UFC excluding Pantoja. The opinion is valid, considering that Pantoja has a 3-0 over Kara-France and Moreno. Instead, Pantoja is set to face Alex Perez at the UFC 277.

Johnson Certain That Pantoja Can Hold the Title

While Pantoja doesn’t get much love from the UFC and its fans, Johnson believes that he should have fought the interim title match. He mentioned Pantoja’s scores, saying that he’s beaten Moreno, so if he had to choose one player to take the title next, it would be him. He said that Pantoja ‘is legit’ and has amazing ground. 

He said that Pantoja has a good chance of coming out on top and becoming the next flyweight champion. There could be some truth to this as well, because according to UFC betting sites, Pantoja’s fights show promising odds. Although he felt the same about Figueiredo earlier, he’s not very sure because he recently lost a fight. However, Johnson said that it’s not always about winning the fights, but keeping yourself healthy, reaching the weight, and then coming to the fight. 

He went on to emphasize that even looking after oneself, making the weight, and coming to the fight are the hardest parts, and many people fail to realize this. When he did it, it took him six years to reach the highest number of title defenses, so staying consistent for a long span of time is crucial.

Pantoja Feels ‘Honored’

In response to Johnson’s praise for him, Pantoja said, on one of the latest episodes of MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca, that he felt honored to be viewed this way. The fighter expressed that even achieving half of what Johnson has done would be an amazing feat for him. He went on to say how he respects Demetrius Johnson as a man with a high IQ and someone who keeps his feet to the ground. 

He also agreed with Johnson that Figueiredo would have done a great job, but said that he may have lost the hunger for it after gaining the flyweight title.

Figueiredo Says That Johnson ‘Dead Wrong’

Figueiredo agreed with Johnson’s comment that his biggest hurdle was making the weight. Nevertheless, he still considers himself the best fighter to dominate the division. He reiterated that if he’s completely focused, it would be difficult for someone to take away his title. 

He expressed his concerns about his weight, as it tends to go up after fights, so he just needs to keep it under control. Once he handles that, he’ll be completely ready to defend the title. And considering how he defeated Moreno despite his odds of +155, he’s likely to put up a good show according to the best UFC betting sites.