Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight grapplers Timothy Johnson and Marcin Tybura dueled on Sunday (April 10, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 86 inside Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia.
Johnson is an interesting prospect in the heavyweight division. A large man with a solid wrestling background and surprising conditioning, Johnson is far more threatening than he appears.
Tybura, on the other hand, entered this bout with a reputation as one of Europe's better heavyweights. With a strong performance in his UFC debut, Tybura could expect to leap into the title mix before long.
The two fighters traded at an active pace early, with Tybura trying to maintain his distance and stay away from the slightly larger man. With about two three minutes remaining, Johnson managed to close the distance and do some good work in the clinch, though the referee eventually separated them.
Back in the center of the Octagon, the two fighters continued to exchange. On the whole, neither man landed anything too serious, but Johnson did push the pace a bit more.
It was likely enough to win him the close round.
Johnson opened the round with a big flurry, landing some of the harder strikes of the fight. He moved into the clinch not long after, but Tybura did a nice job reversing and look for a takedown of his own.
After breaking away from the single leg attempt, Johnson returned to stalking his opponent. However, the fight was definitely wearing on both men, as they exchanged at a far slower pace.
It was extremely close, but Johnson did score with another big flurry in the last 20 seconds in an attempt to steal the round.
Perhaps recognizing that he needed something big, Tybura scored with a big blast double and quickly took his opponent's back. However, Johnson intelligently defended, letting his opponent fall off the back mount and returning back to his feet.
Still on the aggressive, Tybura scored with some hard kicks and punches, which shut his opponent's eye. However, the clock was Tybura's enemy, as Johnson hung tough and didn't allow himself to be overwhelmed.
Ultimately, the third round was the most dominant for either man, as Tybura landed some very effective shots. However, Johnson's lead from the first two rounds was enough to earn him the decision victory.
Johnson may be unassuming, but he is dangerous. As a man who weighs near the top end of the Heavyweight limit yet still possesses some solid cardio, Johnson will be a tough fighter to deal with for much of the division.
While Johnson is known as a wrestler and did show some strong takedown defense, Johnson's improved striking won him this bout. He's not exactly a fluid or natural kickboxer, but Johnson has a smart, forward-moving style that fits his size and background.
Following this victory, Johnson is still in the middle of the division. While he hasn't yet earned a shot at the top 15, that does seem like a very possible opportunity in his future.
Tybura seems like a classic victim of European regional scene. Since so few fighters on that circuit have a strong wrestling background, many grapplers are able to score takedowns and work their top games without much issue. At high levels, that becomes more difficult, and they're left without a real back up plan.
At the same time, there are still plenty of men that Tybura can compete with in the Heavyweight division. He's a strong wrestler with solid technique; he just ran into a stronger man with more wrestling experience. It was a tough match up, so it will be interesting to see how Tybura bounces back.
Last night, Timothy Johnson out-worked his opponent en route to a decision victory. How high up the ladder can the big man climb?
For complete UFC Fight Night 86 "Dos Santos vs Rothwell" results and play-by-play, click HERE!