Demetrious Johnson (right) punches Joseph Benavidez (left) in their UFC 152 co-main event last night. Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting
The inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship was decided last night (Sept. 22, 2012) when elite 125-pounders Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez battled in the co-main event of UFC 152 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Benavidez was the favorite heading into the bout, but someone forgot to tell Johnson that he was supposed to be intimidated.
On a night of underdogs pulling off the upset (eight our of 12 fights), there was no bigger stage for a dog to have his day than Johnson stepping up and winning the UFC flyweight crown.
So what helped "Mighty Mouse" save the day with a huge performance when he needed it most? And what happens next to both men?
Follow me after the jump for our Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez UFC 152 fight review and analysis.
Early on, it was all Johnson as he utilized his speed to perfection. "Mighty Mouse" zoomed around the Octagon and flustered Benavidez, never staying in the same place long and proving to be a very difficult target to his.
Benavidez didn't help things by loading up with his right hand and recklessly charging forwards trying to knock Johnson's head off. By putting so much effort into each shot, it made it easier for Johnson to see it coming and get out of the way.
By the second round, it seemed Benavidez had caught on and finally gauged the proper distance. Despite Joe Rogan's manlove for Johnson's footwork, he was much more hittable in round two. Benavidez found a home time and time again and evened up the scorecards.
The third round was a nightmare to score as neither fighter pressed an advantage but in round four, Benavidez finally landed a significant blow, knocking Johnson down and putting him in danger. Sensing vulnerability, the Team Alpha Male fighter attacked, latching on a guillotine choke and even passing to full mount to lock it in but somehow, someway Johnson persevered.
Refusing to tap, Johnson not only scrambled to safety but he even briefly threatened with a heel hook. On top of that, "Mighty Mouse" stepped up his aggression for the remainder of the round by picking up the pace and attacking with takedowns of his own.
In the fifth and deciding round, despite his corner telling him he needed to press the action and win the frame, Benavidez did not put forth his best effort. Johnson looked just as fresh as the opening salvo of the fight and again, his movement paid dividends. Every time Benavidez tried to load up for a big shot, Johnson exploded forward and either countered him, got out of the way or took him down. While Johnson couldn't keep Benavidez on the canvas, he demonstrated major advantages with his perfect takedown timing.
In the end, two of the three judges sided with Johnson, awarding him the inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship.
For Joseph Benavidez, it seems that his knockout of Kazuhiro Urishitani may have been more of a curse than a blessing. He was really trying to knock Johnson's block off in this fight and the differences in technique from both men showed in a big way. Having a power advantage doesn't mean anything if you can't hit your opponent and Benavidez could not hardly hit Johnson. Speed was a major factor as well. Benavidez had been able to defeat slower opponents in the past but he had trouble keeping up with Johnson, who's constant movement and quickness really flustered him.
There are plenty of potential opponents for Benavidez at 125. Fellow tournament fighter Ian McCall is coming off a loss and would make sense. Other options include the upcoming loser of John Dodson vs. Jussier da Silva.
For Demetrious Johnson, this was about as good as we've ever seen him. He was fast as hell and Benavidez could not catch up to him. His reflexes are also just downright scary as he did a fantastic job of avoiding the power shots and countering both to the head and the body. Whenever Benavidez attempted a takedown or got up from one of Johnson's takedowns, Johnson would always be the first man to his feet and would greet him with a knee or kick. While he wasn't dominant in the middle rounds, he started and finished this fight very strong and he more than deserves the title.
Next for Johnson will be the winner of John Dodson vs. Jussier da Silva at UFC on FX 5. That should be a fantastic showdown.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed by the conclusion to the flyweight tournament last night? Or were you one of the booing spectators that Dana White thinks shouldn't ever buy a pay-per-view again?