With a brilliant showing that reminded mixed martial arts (MMA) viewers the reason he's so tough over five rounds, Demetrious Johnson dispatched John Moraga with a submission that was a UFC on Fox 8 fitting main event finish (watch highlights here).
With the kimura-to-armbar transition that ended the Flyweight affair with little more than one minute left in the 125-pound championship match, "Mighty Mouse" could've mailed it in, knowing he was securely ahead on the judges scorecards.
Amazingly, it was the talented Johnson's first stoppage win in eight fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) since coming over from World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) in 2011. To his credit, I hadn't realized this fact until the stoppage itself occurred. It's because Johnson is just so much fun to watch when he's out-hustling people to a scorecard win.
Who else has gone to eight decision wins without a stoppage? They probably took a lot more heat for being "boring" than Johnson ever did.
Since he is still the champion, stoppages are huge from a promotional perspective. And with Johnson at the top of the small Flyweight heap, I was originally concerned he'd suffer from what I call Dominick Cruz Syndrome.
That's when the champ is clearly a notch or two above most challengers, yet rarely (if ever) does enough to come close to winning inside the distance. Content to play a strategic points game that dovetails nicely to his considerable strengths, Cruz won fights, but he barely gave the WEC, and later the UFC, much to work with in terms of a highlight reel.
It lends itself to obscurity, even when you're holding the belt, and especially when you're a lighter-weight fighter.
Now that Cruz' knee injury has cast him on the sidelines for nearly two years, and Renan Barao has effectively stepped in as a more marketable 135-pound product (he gets stoppages), you could almost hear the UFC breath a sigh of relief.
It isn't fair, but it's reality.
For Johnson, the inspiring combination of his work ethic, personality, and wonderful gifts sets the tone for what could be a real promotional boon to the UFC. Getting the stoppage Saturday night gives the promotion a lot to work with, which you will always need more of when you're the small guy fighting in a sport where bigger is almost always going to be considered better, whether that's fair or not.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst