After another dominant victory by the UFC’s 125-pound kingpin, Demetrious Johnson, last Saturday at UFC 191, the list of worthy challengers left for “Mighty Mouse” shrunk yet again. Johnson’s eight-fight title reign, dating back to 2012, is the longest active streak in the UFC and leaves him only behind Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre in the record books. So who is left to face Johnson and what challenges could possibly be presented to him at this point?

Henry Cejudo

Cejudo seems to be the biggest challenge left for Johnson. He transitioned to mixed martial arts five years after winning the gold medal in freestyle wrestling in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 55kg (~121lbs) weight class. The wrestling standout’s first fight in the UFC was in the bantamweight division after being forced to pull out of a flyweight debut due to weight cutting issues. The most surprising aspect of his first fight was the high-level striking Cejudo displayed. Cejudo’s unlucky opponent, Dustin Kimura, was given no room to breathe on the feet as “The Messenger” landed three-times the strikes that Kimura connected. The scary part was that Cejudo had no need to take down his opponent to be dominant.

Cejudo showed off his world-class wrestiling in his second UFC fight against Chris Cariaso. He took down the long-time veteran at will, landing six of seven attempted take downs in another lopsided victory. The olympian’s third fight was a different story. Cejudo was barely able to get by Chico Camus, landing just one takedown out of an abysmal fifteen attempts. What was also worrisome about this performance was Cejudo’s ineffectiveness striking from a distance. Camus continuously got the better of their striking exchanges, forcing Cejudo to win the fight in clinching range. The undefeated Cejudo has seemingly one last opportunity to prove that his last fight was a fluke against the third-ranked flyweight Jussier Formiga, a fight that should present a new challenger to Demetrious Johnson’s throne.

Jussier Formiga

Formiga is an interesting case. He has a terrific ground game, but very mediocre striking. Formiga is on an impressive three-fight win streak, with victories over Scott Jorgensen and top prospects Wilson Reis and Zach Makovsky. The Brazilian has relied on his grappling to get to this point, which severely limits his chances against top contenders in his division. We have seen these limitations come to play in his knockout losses against Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson. There is no doubt that he will have his hands full with Cejudo in his next fight. However, if he is able to come away with a submission victory, he will have a sure-fire case to fight Johnson.

Ray Borg

Borg is a few fights away from title contention, but he has looked incredible during his current three-fight win streak. The thirteenth-ranked flyweight’s outstanding workrate was most evident in his last fight against Geane Herrera, in which he completed an unprecedented nineteen ground passes off three takedowns. Herrera was effectively smothered on the ground and given no opportunities to get off his back. Borg rounds out his game with very good striking as well, using a knee-buckling overhand right as his specialty. The Arizona native is a wrestler first-and-foremost, but he is very effective at chaining together strikes and takedowns. The challenge he would present in the future to Johnson would be his non-stop pace. Borg does not use top position to rest, he is consistently seeking more dominant positions. As we saw Saturday, it is possible to take Johnson down, keeping him down is the main issue. With a little more fine-tuning to his game, “The Tazmexican” can be a great challenge to the champion in the future.

About The Author

Danny Doherty
Staff Writer

Danny is a sophomore at Ithaca College looking to acquire a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Media. He has been an avid fan of mixed martial arts since watching the UFC’s 100 Greatest Fights special on Spike TV back in 2009. Shortly following UFC 100, Danny’s Saturdays, and most of his free time, became dedicated to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Danny works as a sports broadcaster and as a DJ for Ithaca College’s FM radio station, 92 WICB.

  • Jay Anderson

    I’d suggest the winner of Cejudo vs. Formiga – but an eventual move up to challenge Dillashaw shouldn’t be discounted. Mighty Mouse has really cleaned house at flyweight.