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UFC on Fox 8 fight card: Demetrious Johnson vs John Moraga preview

How can either Demetrious Johnson or John Moraga walk away with the UFC flyweight title this Saturday night? Find out below!

Photos by David Banks and Gary A. Vasquez via USA TODAY Sports

Two contrasting flyweights will vie for the title this Saturday night (July 27, 2013) as champion Demetrious Johnson takes on John Moraga in the main event of UFC on Fox 8 in Seattle, Washington.

Johnson has become a force at flyweight, overcome top-ranked Ian McCall and then upsetting Alpha Male Joseph Benavidez to become the champion. In his first title defense, he withstood getting dropped by John Dodson to outwork the challenger and retain his title.

Moraga, on the other hand, hasn't had to deal with as much adversity, instead simply crushing his opponents and scoring dominant finishes in both of his UFC bouts. He cruised past former Tachi Palace champion Ulysses Gomez in his debut and then submitted veteran Chris Cariaso to claim the top contender position.

How that contrast in styles will play out is what makes the fight so intriguing.

Demetrious Johnson

Record: 17-2-1 overall, 5-1-1 in the UFC

Key Wins: John Dodson (UFC on Fox 6), Joseph Benavidez (UFC 152), Ian McCall (UFC on FX 3)

Key Losses: Dominick Cruz (UFC on Versus 6), Brad Pickett (WEC 48)

How he got here:"Mighty Mouse" carried an impressive string of five straight wins on the regional circuit to earn a WEC debut against top bantamweight Brad Pickett in the promotion's first and only pay-per-view event. The AMC Pankration fighter lost a spirited decision to "One Punch" but then proceeded to reel off two consecutive victories in just a few short months against top 15 ranked bantamweights Nick Pace and Damacio Page

He would meet Japanese legend Norifuni "Kid" Yamamoto in his UFC debut and completely outworked the dynamic fighter over the course of three rounds.

Never one to turn down an opportunity, Johnson stepped up when Brad Pickett dropped out of his UFC 130 bout with Miguel Torres. Despite breaking his leg early in the fight, Johnson gutted through the injury and turned what had been a strong striking performance into a smothering wrestling bout against the former WEC bantamweight champion and eeked out a unanimous decision victory.

Johnson's victory was enough to vault him into title-challenger status and he faced Dominick Cruz for the UFC bantamweight belt last October. While he held his own against Cruz in the stand-up, he was repeatedly taken down by his bigger, stronger foe en route to a unanimous decision defeat.

He dropped to 125 pounds and battled McCall last year, but the bout ended in a controversial majority draw. He had a more conclusive performance in the rematch, winning two rounds to take home a unanimous decision and earn his flyweight shot. Against Joseph Benavidez for the title, he again outworked his opponent in striking and with takedowns to bring home the inaugural hampionship.

He survived an early scare against John Dodson in his first title defense, but managed to come on strong late in the fight and take home a unanimous decision in a very compelling performance. Now, he's looking to really put the flyweights on the map this weekend against Moraga.

How he gets it done: Johnson needs to utilize his tremendous athletic gifts. His speed has always been his biggest advantage and while Moraga is quick, Johnson still can move like a lightning bolt across the cage and outmaneuver him.

If he can dart to proper angles, he could definitely set up some good shots with his striking. It's all about speed and footwork for Johnson in the stand-up because he doesn't have Moraga's power.

Whenever he sees an opportunity or when Moraga commits heavily to a powerful blow, Johnson needs to utilize his tremendous timing to shoot in and blast him to the ground. We haven't seen much of Moraga's defensive ground game off his back and while Johnson is not amazing at keeping his opponents on the canvas for lengthy periods of time, just the fact that he knows Johnson can shoot in at a moment's notice could make Moraga hesitate.

As the fight wears on, Johnson should take advantage of his tremendous conditioning and really push the pace. The championship rounds are where he can truly shine in this bout and potentially even go for a finish as Moraga has not yet gone the distance inside the Octagon

John Moraga

Record: 13-1 overall, 2-0 in the UFC

Key Wins: Chris Cariaso (UFC 155), Ulysses Gomez (UFC on Fox 4)

Key Losses: John Dodson (Nemesis Fighting)

How he got here: Moraga had a troubled childhood, growing up tough neighborhood in Arizona. He found salvation through the wrestling program, becoming a dominant force and propelling himself into the Arizona State program alongside future MMA talents like Cain Velasquez, Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway.

After witnessing their success and finding out he had a kid on the way, he decided to try his hand at the sport. Moraga quickly developed a ferocious finishing style, stopping four of his first six opponents and earning a bout against fellow top prospect John Dodson at Nemesis Fighting in the Dominican Republic where he was handed his first loss and received no compensation.

Moraga was discouraged but he didn't give up, instead rededicating himself to his trade and scoring five straight victories in the division. The last of them earned him a shot in the UFC where he destroyed veteran Ulysses Gomez with a nasty combination of elbows and uppercuts along the fence.

In his next bout, he took out Chris Cariaso with a third round guillotine choke, and his performance was enough to impress the UFC brass and earn a title shot against champion Demetrious Johnson. After a slight delay due to an injury to Johnson, the bout will finally go down this weekend.

How he gets it done: Moraga is a jack of all trades, possesses some solid striking talent on the inside, respectable submission skills to go along with a wrestling background that saw him earn All-American honors twice at ASU. The biggest key for him is to try and get to Johnson early, and finish was John Dodson started.

Johnson is vulnerable early in fights before he makes the necessary adjustments. If Moraga can press him into the fence and work him over with his nasty Muay Thai skills, particularly those elbows and uppercuts, he could actually finish him.

Moraga's conditioning is a slight question mark, so he shouldn't risk letting this fight go to the distance. He's the type of fighter that takes risks and usually is paid off for them. If he sees an opening, he should definitely dive on it and try to put Johnson away whether it's by wrapping his neck up in a choke or punishing him with elbows, punches and knees.

Fight X-Factor: The biggest factor for this fight is the ability of Demetrious Johnson to adapt mid-fight. He may not always have the strongest starts to big bouts, but he almost always finishes them in complete control. The only time he didn't was when he cut too much weight in the first Ian McCall fight. Every other bout, he's made adjustments whether it was timing Ian McCall's forward movement, messing with Joseph Benavidez's confidence by putting him on the canvas or outworking John Dodson and forcing him to wilt. Johnson will almost certainly come on late so the pressure is on Moraga to make something happen before his offense is neutralized.

Bottom Line: This fight has some great dynamics, featuring a talented finisher against the most well-rounded, fasted and hardest working flyweights in the division. Whether Moraga is able to maneuver Johnson towards the fence and lay into him with heavy short strikes or Johnson is able to drag this one into the later rounds and drown the number one contender, this fight should be chock full of entertaining moment. Johnson has a bad habit of dropping rounds early so this one could definitely go down to the wire.

Who will come out on top at UFC on Fox 8? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!

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