The UFC flyweight title was on the line last night (July 27, 2013) as champion Demetrious Johnson put up his belt against challenger John Moraga in the main event of UFC on Fox 8 in Seattle, Washington.
Johnson had already taken out nearly every top contender in the still young 125-pound division and was looking to defend his title for a second straight time after a solid showing earlier this year against John Dodson.
He did that and more.
Early on, Moraga tried to find a groove in his striking, but he couldn't land anything against "Mighty Mouse," who was constantly moving and flustering him by never staying in front of him. Any time Johnson threw a strike, he was already off and to the side by the time Moraga was able to throw a strike.
Moraga tried to get something going in the clinch, but Johnson simply turned that to his advantage, scoring with knees to the legs and then taking Moraga down with authority.
This would be a sign of things to come.
Every time the AMC Pankration fighter shot in for a takedown, he was able to successful power Moraga to the canvas. This wasn't the Demetrious Johnson with great timing on his takedowns but an inability to do much with them either. Johnson punished Moraga with some crisp elbows and punches while looking to actually pass his opponent's guard and dish out some damage.
When Moraga would try to be active from bottom with his legs, Johnson was easily able to throw them to the side and pass to side control where he continued to inflict damage.
As the fight wore on, Johnson looked to do a few more things with his takedowns, working for a guillotine choke but getting saved by the bell and also looking to isolate an arm with a surprising Kimura attack.
Despite the dominance from Johnson, Moraga was still a game fighter. He kept looking to attack when taken down and still tried to inflict punishment on the feet, although he really couldn't get much going before getting blasted to the canvas again with takedowns.
His lone shining moment came near the end of the fourth round when he caught Johnson with a big right hand that staggered the champion. Moraga tried to follow up but Johnson wisely shot in and took him down again, although he at least opened up his nose, which bled for the remainder of the bout.
In the fifth and final round, Johnson took no chances by quickly dumping Moraga on his back. Despite having the fight clearly in his hands with enough rounds to take home the decision, the champion instead kept attacking. He softened Moraga up with some strikes on the ground and looked to isolate his arm once more.
This time, when Moraga defended the Kimura, Johnson instead transitioned to an armbar, stepping over and giving up his top position. Once he extended the arm, Moraga was forced into a "tap or snap" situation and the bout was halted by the referee Herb Dean. It was a spectacular showing by Johnson, who never stopped attacking and was able to score the latest finish in UFC history.
For John Moraga, he was a game opponent an had a moment or two, but it was pretty clear that he was out of his element against Johnson. The flyweight division is still very thin so he was thrust into a title fight after previously opening up two facebook preliminary bouts and it showed. He wasn't quite on Johnson's level technically and the champion punished every opening with either strikes or takedowns. He showed some serious heart during the bout, but this was a demoralizing performance. Every attempt at offense was pretty much thwarted other than the one right hand at the end of the fourth round. He was simply outclassed.
That's not to say this wasn't a tremendous learning experience. Moraga is still young in the game and don't be surprised to see him back in this same spot if he can put together another nice winning streak.