Flyweight legend Demetrious Johnson has named which reigning UFC champion he believes has the best chance of breaking his defense record.
While he now throws down inside the ONE Championship Circle on the other side of the world, Johnson made his name as a dominant titleholder inside the Octagon, where he secured his legacy as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
Although there perhaps aren’t as many including him in the overall GOAT debate as there are Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, or Georges St-Pierre, “Mighty Mouse” boasts something they don’t — the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history.
Between 2012 and 2017, Johnson sat on the 125-pound throne on MMA’s biggest stage, dismissing 11 challenges to his reign from the likes of Joseph Benavidez — whom he also defeated to begin his rule as the division’s inaugural champion — John Dodson, Henry Cejudo, and Kyoji Horiguchi.
Breaking the record in style, Johnson submitted Ray Borg with one of the most memorable submissions in promotional history, forcing “The Tazmexican Devil” to tap after adjusting a suplex into an armbar at UFC 216.
While the record has held strong to this day, Johnson has had a number of individuals in mind when it comes to who can surpass his feat, the first of whom recently fell short.
During an interview with MMA Junkie’s Danny Segura, the former champion noted that he expected Kamaru Usman to be the one to grapple the record away. But “The Nigerian Nightmare” had his reign ended this past weekend at UFC 278, with Leon Edwards securing the crown with a head-kick knockout.
“Look what happened to Kamaru Usman. I truly thought that he was gonna be the gentleman to break my longest consecutive title defense record,” Johnson said, “I had him on that list, that he was gonna break it.”
Although Usman is now out of the running, there is another titleholder left in record-breaking contention who “Mighty Mouse” is backing to hit 12.
Johnson Touts Shevchenko As Future Record Breaker
Johnson named reigning women’s flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko as the current champion who is likely to break the record down the line. The ONE standout cited the level of competition that “Bullet” is facing as the reason why he’s expecting her to reach the achievement.
“I think Valentina Shevchenko will break it, just because she’s leaps and bounds ahead of her competition,” Johnson said. “I also think the pool in women’s mixed martial arts isn’t as vast. It’s not that deep. She’s just lightyears above people.”
Last time out, Shevchenko surpassed the halfway mark with her seventh successful retention. Having previously dispatched the likes of Katlyn Chookagian, Jéssica Andrade, and Jennifer Maia, the Kyrgyzstani added the name of Taila Santos to her incredibly impressive résumé at UFC 275 this past June.
But perhaps for the first time in her reign, Shevchenko was met with adversity, with her Brazilian rival delivering a competitive performance in Singapore that even had some suggesting she should have had her hand raised, which would have ended any hope that “Bullet” has of breaking Johnson’s record.
With Santos arguably doing enough to deserve a rematch, Shevchenko may have to go through the toughest test of her career once again if she’s to maintain her grip on the flyweight belt.
Do you agree with Demetrious Johnson? Does Valentina Shevchenko have the best chance of breaking his defense record?