There’s no doubt that Michael Johnson is on an impressive roll in the UFC’s lightweight division, and now with his confidence soaring, “The Menace” is eyeing a big-name opponent for his next fight. Johnson, who most recently dispatched Gleison Tibau in impressive fashion with a second-round knockout at UFC 168 in Las Vegas, is making his case via social media for a fight against No. 5 ranked Nate Diaz. The latter looked sensational in his last fight, ending a two-fight losing skid by blasting out Gray Maynard at The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 Finale.
After disappointing losses to Myles Jury and Reza Madadi, it’s obvious Johnson did plenty of soul searching and has taken his game to a new level. A previously inconsistent fighter has really put it all together in his last two fights, which included the KO of the normally durable Tibau and a dominant decision victory against Joe Lauzon. Those two performances, which showed off a precise and highly effective stand-up game, have certainly raised Johnson’s stock in a talent-rich division. It’s perfectly understandable why the runner-up in The Ultimate Fighter Season 12, would be looking to line up the highest profile fight of his career. While Johnson has showcased solid striking skills with seven knockouts in his 14 career victories, there’s no question a fight against Diaz would be a vast step up in competition and the most formidable challenge of his 10-fight UFC tenure.
As for Diaz, The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 winner, he has been in with the best that the division has to offer. He’s also targeting big names after the blistering and brutal first-round KO of “The Bully” to end their trilogy by making an emphatic statement. It was a badly needed victory after losses to Josh Thomson and former lightweight champ Benson Henderson. The impressive nature of the Maynard destruction sent Diaz soaring up the 155-pound rankings. His boxing skills are getting better all the time, and he has serious submission skills. Keep in mind Johnson has been submitted six times in his career. The fight would have the makings to be an entertaining one, but the problem is that Johnson doesn’t bring the name recognition to the table that Diaz is looking for.
Diaz is seemingly fixated on injured lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and would also welcome the chance of getting revenge against Thomson. Diaz might not see Johnson as the elite opponent he’s looking for next, but then again, he’s never shied away from a good scrap. Johnson’s calling out a fighter of Diaz’ abilities will no doubt earn him praise from UFC brass for having such lofty goals; however, whether he will get his wish remains to be seen.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.