<
>

Demetrious Johnson's coach: Breaking Anderson Silva's record 'greatest accomplishment in mixed martial arts'

Demetrious Johnson's coach, Matt Hume, has no doubts the flyweight champion will break the record for consecutive title defenses against Ray Borg at UFC 216. Mike Roach/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS -- After several false starts, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is finally poised to break the great Anderson Silva's mark of 10 consecutive title defenses this weekend at UFC 216.

The historic fight was originally targeted for August, but a rift between Johnson and the UFC pushed it back. It was then officially set to take place last month in Edmonton, Alberta, only to be canceled the week of, when Johnson's opponent, Ray Borg, fell ill.

Due to the delays, Johnson (22-2) has basically been preparing for the fight all summer. His coach, Matt Hume, said the delays were certainly not ideal, but have not soured the long-awaited moment.

"It would have been much better if it would have been a cooperative effort, where we all would have been on the same page and UFC would have decided to hype the fight they originally asked for and we agreed to, but that's not the way it was," Hume told ESPN's Five Rounds podcast. "All those things happened and, for us, it doesn't sour anything. Our goal has been the same from the beginning: Whoever is in front of us at flyweight is the person DJ is going to break the record against.

"We're going to celebrate, when it's all said and done, the greatest accomplishment in mixed martial arts."

Naturally, one topic of conversation leading up to the fight has been comparing Johnson's title reign, which began in 2012, to Silva's, which ran from 2006 to 2013.

Hume has an interesting perspective there, as he coached former middleweight champion Rich Franklin, who fought Silva twice, as well as the other elite middleweights of that time. According to Hume, Johnson's competition has been more diverse.

"I game planned against a lot of those [middleweights], and I've game planned against all of DJ's opponents -- and I personally feel there's a lot more talent in the flyweight division," Hume said. "The flyweight division is a lot more diverse. It's the most interesting division in the UFC to me. When I look at the gold medalists, the guys with knockout power, and the guys with great cardio, from all over the world with such different skill sets, to me it's the most interesting.

"And you've seen that in the way DJ has finished his opponents. He's gone out against guys and beat them at their own game. You don't have any champion that goes out and does that. Champions stay within their specialty most of the time."

"We're going to celebrate, when it's all said and done, the greatest accomplishment in mixed martial arts."

Matt Hume

Johnson, 31, has discussed the possibility of defending the title many more times, potentially setting a record that would be nearly impossible to break.

Of course, there's also the option of moving up in weight. Johnson fought in the 135-pound bantamweight division previously, and fought Dominick Cruz for that title in 2011. He has stated he's open to moving up in weight, for additional compensation.

Hume said the team's focus is on Borg this weekend, and then they will review all options. And while a move up in weight is always a possibility, Hume doesn't believe Johnson's legacy requires it.

"First thing in front of us is to break this record; we're not going to take Ray Borg lightly," Hume said. "Whoever is the champion at [bantamweight], we'll decide if that's an option. Do we want to come up? Are they coming down? Do we meet in the middle? Or is there another challenge still at flyweight that is more deserving?

"I don't think combat sports is about going up in weight classes. It depends where the challenges are. Just going and beating somebody heavier is not necessarily going to prove you're a better fighter than beating more skilled guys in your weight class."