Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson put his belt on the line against Joseph Benavidez in the main event of last night's (Dec. 14, 2013) UFC on Fox 9 from Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California.
The fight was a rematch of their UFC 152 bout that Johnson won to become the inaugural UFC 125-pound champion.
"Mighty Mouse" came in with momentum on his side after defending his Flyweight title twice. His previous fight was an impressive fifth round submission win over John Moraga at UFC on Fox 8 in July. Johnson was looking to prove that his first win over Benavidez was no fluke.
Benavidez had almost as much momentum as Johnson with a three-fight win streak. Benavidez' most recent win was a knockout over Jussier Formiga at UFC Fight Night 28. His striking was greatly improved by the teachings of Duane "Bang" Ludwig.
But that didn't end up mattering too much as the fight was over quickly. Johnson sent notice to UFC Flyweights by knocking out Benavidez with authority, becoming the first man to finish "Beefcake" in mixed martial arts (MMA).
The fight started quickly with Johnson throwing some low kicks. Benavidez looked a step slower than Johnson. "Mighty Mouse" went for a takedown and threw some short shots when it was blocked. Benavidez threw a big high kick that nearly landed clean. Johnson stalked Benavidez up against the cage and landed a huge right hand flush on Benavidez' chin. Johnson followed up with a flurry of ground shots but the fight was over after the first right hand.
It was a huge statement win for Johnson. He destroyed the only fighter with a realistic chance of beating him. With three straight title defenses, Johnson is starting to throw his name in with the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
"Mighty Mouse" is ruling over his division with an iron fist, having already defeated the top four 125-pound fighters in UFC. The only truly logical next move for Johnson is a bout with rising number five-ranked John "Hands of Stone" Lineker. If Lineker can make weight for a title fight he'll be the only Flyweight with a chance at knocking Johnson out.
But, it's a very small chance.
For Benavidez the loss is devastating. He's now lost two fights to his division's champion, the latest by devastating knockout. While he's still probably second best at 125 pounds, he may never get another chance to fight for the belt as long as "Mighty Mouse" holds it.
And he could hold it for quite some time.
Benavidez will regroup against a top ten opponent. Surging Ali Bagautinov would make an interesting fight for Benavidez. Unfortunately his career will most likely be defined by his rivalry with Johnson.
There's a small chance that he can climb back up the ladder. With a relatively shallow talent pool available at Flyweight, he's in the right division to do it.
At this point, however, it doesn't look like he can provide too much of a challenge for the red hot "Mighty Mouse."
Demetrious Johnson proved that Flyweights do have knockout power when he put Joseph Benavidez to sleep at UFC on Fox 9. Is there anyone at 125 pounds who can give ‘Mighty Mouse' anything close to a run for his money?