Demetrious Johnson refused to play Georges St. Pierre to Tim Elliott’s Matt Serra.
“Mighty Mouse” stayed calm in the face of early adversity to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight crown with a unanimous decision over Elliott in “The Ultimate Fighter 24” Finale main event on Saturday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Johnson was awarded 49-46, 49-46 and 49-45 marks from the judges, as he made his ninth consecutive successful title defense -- one shy of former middleweight boss Anderson Silva’s all-time UFC record.
Elliott did all he could to unseat the incumbent champion. He caught Johnson in a tight guillotine in the first round and transitioned to a brabo choke, squeezing until his arms could squeeze no more. The AMC Pankration ace extricated himself, worked back to his feet and restored order. Johnson spent much of the next 20 minutes assuming top position -- either through takedowns or scrambles -- and compromising the Elliott guard with a series of passes.
Johnson has now sat atop the flyweight division for 1,534 days and has not lost a fight since his unanimous decision defeat to reigning bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz on Oct. 1, 2011.
In wake of “The Ultimate Fighter 24” Finale, here are five matches that ought to be made:
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez: While a rematch with the aforementioned Cruz remains a part of any future plans involving Johnson, he still has worthy contenders waiting on him at 125 pounds. Benavidez -- who has twice tried and failed to crack the “Mighty Mouse” code -- recorded his fifth straight victory in the co-headliner, as he edged 2008 Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo in a crackling three-round affair. The Elevation Fight Team export has lost two only two men in his 29-fight career, falling twice to Johnson and twice to Cruz.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Donald Cerrone-Matt Brown winner: Masvidal appeared well on his way to beating Jake Ellenberger but nevertheless benefitted from a bizarre sequence of events in their welterweight showcase. The American Top Team mainstay had Ellenberger reeling with punches and knees in the first round, nearly forcing a stoppage. After withstanding Masvidal’s initial barrage, “The Juggernaut” gathered himself, charged forward and slid into the cage. In the process, his big toe became lodged in the fence, prompting referee Herb Dean to intervene. After consulting with the Nevada Athletic Commission, Dean awarded Masvidal the technical knockout. Cerrone and Brown will square off at UFC 206 on Dec. 10.
Sara McMann vs. Liz Carmouche: Alexis Davis had designs on a triumphant return. McMann had other ideas, as the 2004 Olympic silver medalist became the first woman to ever submit the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in MMA competition. McMann did the honors with a second-round arm-triangle, spoiling Davis’ first appearance inside the Octagon since April 2015. Carmouche has rattled off back-to-back wins, her latest conquest coming in a split decision over the previously unbeaten Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 205 on Nov. 12.
Brandon Moreno vs. Zach Makovsky-Dustin Ortiz winner: At 22 years of age, Moreno has plenty of time to grow into his talents -- a frightening thought for the rest of the flyweight division. The Entram Gym prospect ran his winning streak to 10 fights and backed up his Oct. 1 upset of Louis Smolka by pocketing a split decision over Ryan Benoit in a three-round main-card pairing at 125 pounds. Moreno worked behind a stiff jab, countered beautifully throughout and mixed in takedowns when the situation called for them. Makovsky and Ortiz will lock horns at UFC 206 in Dec. 10 in Toronto.
Henry Cejudo vs. Ali Bagautinov: Cejudo likely raised his stock in losing a contentious split decision to Benavidez in the co-headliner. The 29-year-old Los Angeles native was the aggressor for much of the 15-minute clash, knocked down Benavidez with a left hook in the first round and worked over his body with kicks and knees. Still, Cejudo has suffered consecutive defeats and will need a win in his next outing to stay relevant at the top of the flyweight division. Bagautinov last competed at UFC Fight Night 99 on Nov. 19, when he dropped a unanimous verdict to Japanese star Kyoji Horiguchi. His two other UFC losses resulted from his encounters with Johnson and Benavidez.