Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson firmly held his place atop the 125-pound ladder with a masterful performance against John Moraga that ended in a fifth-round submission in the main event of UFC on FOX 8: "Johnson vs. Moraga."
It was believed that Moraga's well-round skillset would pose some problems for the champion, and while the challenger had one shining moment in the fourth round when he connected with a punch that crushed Johnson's nose, essentially the entire contest was dominated by the man they call "Mighty Mouse."
The Washington native got past Moraga in his home state and finally earned that elusive finish inside the Octagon when he locked up an armbar with less than 90 seconds remaining in the fifth and final round.
There aren't many options out there for Johnson's third defense of the gold, and considering the thin nature of the 125-pound division, it's likely he will be matched up with familiar foe next in Joseph Benavidez, who will surely be named the No. 1 contender with a win over Jussier Formiga at UFC Fight Night 28 in September.
Johnson defeated Benavidez to become the inaugural UFC flyweight champion just three fights ago at UFC 152. The fight was a competitive five-round battle, but Johnson was clearly the superior of the two that night and walked away with the unanimous decision victory and the title belt.
How would a rematch go over one year later? It's hard to tell. But Benavidez is certainly capable of defeating Johnson with the right game plan and his newfound confidence under the tutelage of Team Alpha-Male coach Duane Ludwig.
Unfortunately for "Joe-Jitsu," fighting Johnson again this soon would be a major risk as two losses to the champion in such a short time span would put him in title purgatory in the division, a situation very similar to what he faced at bantamweight with two losses to Dominick Cruz. However, if Benavidez loses to Johnson again, this time there's no lighter weight class to drop down too.
It would be nice if there were an option for Johnson's next fight outside of a rematch with Benavidez, but with the current landscape of the underdeveloped flyweight division, there isn't any fighter with enough momentum or a big enough name to warrant a title shot.
Formiga could likely slide into the No. 1 contenders position if he were to upset Benavidez; however, few expect that to be the case unless the Brazilian can deliver the best performance of his career.
Perhaps there is a prominent bantamweight out there who will take notice of the large gap atop the 125-pound weight class and decide now is the time to cut 10 additional pounds and take advantage of the opportunity to slide into the No. 1 contenders position.
Johnson also suggested a possible "super fight" with the 135-pound champion, be it Cruz or Renan Barao. However, the fact the UFC is still working hard on developing the flyweight division, the chances of having the champion move up are slim.
For now, unless something drastic happens, a Benavidez victory makes him the leading candidate so you can be sure Johnson will be keeping a very close eye on how his fight goes down on Sept. 4, 2013.
Who would you like to see Johnson face next? Let us know in the comments section below.
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