Michael Johnson eyes Zabit Magomedsharipov for UFC 232 – if Jose Aldo isn't available

Veteran UFC fighter Michael Johnson knows what he needs to ignite his career at featherweight.

With a 2-1 record at 145 pounds, Johnson (18-13 MMA, 10-9 UFC) is aiming at Zabit Magomedsharipov (16-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) for an end-of-year matchup to put him back in title contention.

“We talked about it,” Johnson told MMAjunkie Radio. “It might happen; it might not.”

Getting Magomedsharipov – or more specifically, his reps – to agree might be the toughest part of the request; the 27-year-old Russian is one of the hottest fighters in the division. Not only that, he’s targeted two-time title challenger Chad Mendes or Jose Aldo for his next fight.

Johnson, too, has requested former featherweight champ Aldo as of late. After a rematch with Cub Swanson for UFC 233 apparently was scuttled, Johnson volunteered on Twitter to fill in, and Aldo’s coach Andre Pederneiras gave the thumbs up.

In October, Johnson stepped in on short notice to outpoint Artem Lobov, an opponent known as much for his relationship with Conor McGregor as his heavy hands. That put Johnson on the UFC’s nice list, so he figures he’s got the capital to ask for a big fight.

Eventually, he said, he wants a rematch with another Russian – UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. But that’s a little premature right now. Whoever is available, though, Johnson needs an opponent that offers some kind of name value.

“I’ve got to get back up to the top, so they’ve got to be closer to the top,” Johnson said.

UFC 232, which takes place Dec. 29 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, is an event with a high rate of return for top performers. The promotion only needs to ask him to sign on.

“If they’ve got room for me, they know I’m always interested in fights,” Johnson said.

For more on UFC 232, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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