First things first: the champion deserves a vacation. UFC 178 marked Demetrious Johnson's sixth title fight in the last two years, making him the most active champion on the roster today.
With yet another astonishing win, in seemingly effortless fashion, Johnson has more than earned some time off. During the UFC 178 post-fight press conference, Johnson noted that he would like to get back into the Octagon in January or February, as he plans to take October off.
According to that timeline, we can expect to see Johnson defending his belt in either a trilogy fight with Ian McCall or a fresh contender in flyweight knockout artist John Lineker.
The two aforementioned challengers are set to duke it out at UFC Fight Night 56 in November. That fight will certainly be the No. 1 contender fight, but Lineker must make the 125-pound limit if he hopes to ever get a crack at Demetrious.
If Lineker fails to make weight for the fourth time in his UFC career, even if he beats McCall the following evening, Dana White will likely force him to move up to bantamweight (or cut him altogether), and the Brazilian will lose his opportunity to fight for the belt once again.
Considering that Demetrious has defeated six of the top 10 flyweight contenders, "Mighty Mouse" is quickly running out of competent challengers as evidenced by the fact that he fought Chris Cariaso on Saturday evening (highlights here).
Nothing against Cariaso, but he "earned" last Sat. night's title shot by beating Louis Smolka (via split decision), Danny Martinez, and Iliarde Santos. If that doesn't portray just how thin the contenders are in this division, nothing will.
Thankfully, the flyweight division has several up-and-coming fighters who could really make a case for themselves as title contenders in the near future. Jussier Formiga, Dustin Ortiz, Kyoji Horiguchi, and even Justin Scoggins and Ray Borg all have a lot of promise.
You can bet that one of the aforementioned fighters will be fighting for the title in 2015.
Now let's get down to brass tacks. The only fight we truly want to see, and the only fight that is a true test for the champion, is a rematch with No. 1 ranked flyweight John Dodson. Their first bout was absolutely sensational, and Dodson is confident he can finish the job this time, and he seems like the only viable contender to do so.
Unfortunately, "The Magician" will be on the sidelines rehabbing from ACL surgery until midway through 2015, so we likely won't get to see the rematch for probably another six-to-nine months.
In that time span you have to believe Johnson will fight twice more. I expect him to first take on John Lineker or Ian McCall, and then Dustin Ortiz if he gets by the ever-tough Joseph Benavidez in November.
For more results and fallout from UFC 178 including play-by-play, videos, reactions, recaps, and more, check out our "Johnson vs. Cariaso" live story stream right here.