Michael Johnson recently announced his intention to drop down to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight division after back-to-back losses at Lightweight.
According to “The Menace,” it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to losing, as he was planning on dropping down to 145 pounds anyway.
“There’s always been a thought in my head to drop down,” Johnson told reporters at UFC Fight Night 115 (via MMA Junkie). “Regardless of how I was doing in this division, win or lose, that was kind of a plan of mine, to drop down to 145, test the waters.”
Johnson’s last loss came against Justin Gaethje this past July in a “Fight of the Year” contender (see it again here). Getting knocked out, however, played no part in his drop down and he doesn't rule out a move back up.
“Come back up to 155, maybe, because I fought everybody in the top 10 of the 155. I fought numerous people. I just wanted to see new changes, new faces and to see how I react. It has nothing to do with the fact that I lost to Justin. Even if I would have won, 145 still would have been a thought in my mind,” he added.
As for his first fight in a new division, Johnson called for a bout against former 145-pound champion Jose Aldo. If he doesn’t get his wish, then he will take the next toughest guy in line because Johnson isn’t in the fight game to fight someone who is just “okay.”
“The next toughest guy in line,” Johnson said. “I think that’s maybe detrimental to my career, maybe hurts it a little bit that I always go for the toughest fight. But my first fight at 145, Aldo is a former champ, he’s one of the best in the world, always been.
“So that’s one guy that I would love to fight. I’m not in this sport to fight the guy that’s okay. I want the toughest guy. I want everybody that says he can’t be beat.”
Aldo, however, can be beat, as evidenced by his losses to Conor McGregor — which occurred in 13 seconds — and Max Holloway (see it), coming in two of his last three outings, both times surrendering his Featherweight title. Prior to that, Aldo did look unbeatable, winning 18 straight fights without losing a bout in nearly a decade.
Aldo is eying a return to action at UFC 217 this November and was briefly linked to a showdown against Ricardo Lamas. But since the fight has yet to be made official, Johnson has time to ramp up his campaign.