Any doubt about whether Demetrious Johnson is the best flyweight mixed martial artist in the world has long been erased.
His dominant victory Saturday night at UFC 197 at the MGM Grand Garden was just the latest evidence. The first-round knockout of 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medalist, and previously undefeated, Henry Cejudo further stated the case that he may indeed be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the entire Ultimate Fighting Championship.
UFC president Dana White has come around to that belief. Broadcaster Joe Rogan has been making the case for far longer.
“Ridiculous,” White said of Johnson’s performance at the post-fight news conference. “Rogan has been screaming for a long time for him to be the pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the world. If you don’t agree with it now, I don’t even know what to tell you anymore.
”He continues to evolve when you think there’s nothing left for him to learn. If you give him this much space, he will hit you and he will hurt you. He’s unbelievable.”
Cejudo was certainly impressed. The first time they engaged in the clinch, Johnson hit him with a knee to the body. Cejudo took him down, but Johnson got right back up. When they clinched again, Johnson launched an assault of knees that would eventually lead to the finish.
“That was actually part of our gameplan,” Cejudo said. “I really did think I was going to dominate in the clinch coming from my wrestling background. That first knee he hit me with, I think he said during the interview he heard me grunt. I took him down and I could have held him down a little longer but I was still trying to catch my breath
“I underestimated his clinch. He just beat me up with knees. He dominated that area. It’s a humbling experience for me. I was humbled tonight.”
The win over Cejudo leaves Johnson with very little still to accomplish in the division, though he does have a long-stated goal of breaking Anderson Silva’s UFC record of 10 consecutive title defenses.
Johnson’s run now stands at eight.
“Something needs to be done with this guy because he’s beaten everyone in the top ten, some of them more than once,” White said.
A rematch with bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, who beat Johnson in 2011 at 135 pounds, would make some sense. But Johnson said the UFC is going to have to make it worthwhile for him to make the jump.
“I’ve never shied away from that fight, but my biggest goal is to break that title defense record and I believe I can do it,” Johnson said. “For me to go off on a detour, it would have to be something that really makes me want to do it.”
For now, he believes he is still getting better and hasn’t yet reached his peak. That’s what he is striving for as an athlete.
“I’m happy people see me as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. It’s a cool title,” he said. “But for me, I’m just focused on getting better in the gym every day and becoming a better fighter.”
Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson lost all five rounds of his Bellator MMA debut to welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov on Friday in Uncasville, Conn.
Henderson, who left the UFC as a free agent to sign with Bellator in February, never was able to mount much offense against the bigger champion.
“I don’t know,” he said of his future in the organization after the fight. “I’m going to listen to the bosses and see what they say and see where we go from here. I do know one thing: I don’t like losing and will be back in there right away.”
It was the sixth consecutive win for Koreshkov since suffering the only loss of his career to Ben Askren in a 2013 Bellator bout.
Aldo takes shot
Jose Aldo didn’t get the chance to do a whole lot of damage to bitter rival Conor McGregor when McGregor knocked him out in just 13 seconds to take the UFC featherweight title in December
Perhaps that’s why Aldo felt the need to get one more good jab in when an opportunity presented itself last week after McGregor was pulled from the main event of UFC 200 when he failed to participate in a publicity tour because he thought it would affect his training regimen.
Aldo, who will fight Frankie Edgar for the interim belt at UFC 200, was in town for a news conference and a commercial shoot.
He posted a photo of a workout on Instagram.
“Training here in Vegas last night,” Aldo wrote with the picture. “Because some of us can train while still promoting the fight.”
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.