The Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif., hosted UFC on FOX 9: "Johnson vs. Benavidez 2" last night (Sat., Dec. 14, 2013). And it is safe to say the second to last Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event of 2013 ended with a bang.
It was a night of ups and downs in somewhat of a homecoming for Team Alpha Male, which saw its leader, Urijah Faber, positively set the example by stopping young prospect Michael McDonald in the second round of their co-main event bantamweight bout by submission in impressive fashion (watch full fight video highlights here).
However, the main event did not bode so well for the rising camp.
Entering Sacramento as public enemy number one, Demetrious Johnson further legitimized his status at 125 pounds with a devastating knockout of Joseph Benavidez in their Flyweight championship rematch (watch full fight video highlights here). Not that his credentials do not speak for themselves, but very people thought he would close the Benavidez chapter in his life the way he did.
Unfortunately, in a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs, while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the eight-walled cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Sacramento.
Biggest Winner -- Demetrious Johnson
It was really close to not award the 125-pound division as the biggest winner of this fight card because amidst the constant criticisms the weight class has faced since its inception, particularly for their "lack" of entertainment.
Hopefully, the main event was good enough for the complainers. And as for the title holder, hopefully he has earned their utmost respect, too.
Johnson makes the case to be considered as 2013's "Fighter of the Year" after savagely knocking out Benavidez little more than two minutes into the first round, capping off a year of three successful title defenses and establishing himself as the undisputed king of the division.
Johnson's "Knockout of the Night" was the fastest knockout in the Flyweight division's short history (his first in three years, too), and this is a fighter whose work ethic is reminiscent of an employee who shows up for his job everyday, puts in the hours and cashes in a check.
Only this year, he received quite the holiday bonus.
It has been a great year for Johnson. He now gets to sit back and enjoy the time off and watch the counterparts of the division scramble for the top spot without any of them having a clear advantage over one another.
Runner Up -- Urijah Faber
"The California Kid" does not necessarily have haters, although he surely has his doubters who are reluctant to see him in another title fight, which would be his seventh, to be in exact.
Keep dreaming if you think Faber is not going to get another one in UFC, which would be his third title fight in the promotion.
Faber made McDonald look anything but a top prospect in the sport, rocking him badly with a barrage of heavy punches and followed up with what is becoming a patented maneuver for Faber -- the rear-naked choke. It was the seventeenth time Faber has won by submission in his career, and his 2013 record stands at 4-0.
Biggest Loser -- Joseph Benavidez
We may be looking at a similar situation for Benavidez, in comparison to his teammate Faber in the future.
You could rank Benavidez in the Top 15 when it comes to the most complete fighters in the world, and although there is no guarantee he continues to win, he has lost to only two competitors in his career.
And three of those four losses have been title fights.
He is still young enough to have a chance to work his way back up to a title fight and achieve his goal of winning a world title. He is, after all, arguably still the No. 2-ranked Flyweight in the world.
The problem is Benavidez has gotten two title shots in little more than one year, which means that he must make room for other contenders after losing the way he did.
Fortunately for Benavidez, the weight class is not too populated at the moment. Though unfortunately, he finds himself at the back of the line.
Runner Up -- Mac Danzig
Success is something Danzig has been having trouble finding for a while now, and it did not get any better against Joe Lauzon last night in Sacramento.
Apart from a competitive first round, Danzig was on the receiving end of Lauzon's onslaught after the first five minutes, and it simply got worse for him. Busted up and taking some of the most damage he has ever taken in a fight, Danzig looks like he could be on his way out after losing in a lopsided fight.
Numbers do not lie -- Danzig is winless (0-3) in his last three fights, 1-4 in his past five fights. And since winning the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 6, he is 4-8.
If you think Dana White has a soft spot for former TUF winners, that becomes a reality if Danzig gets another shot in UFC.
For full UFC on FOX 9: "Johnson vs. Benavidez 2" coverage, including news and updates, click here.