Demetrious Johnson was 12 for 12 on takedown attempts against John Moraga. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
If size matters, explain Demetrious Johnson.
The 5-foot-3, 124.5-pound “Mighty Mouse” retained his Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight crown in the UFC on Fox 8 main event on Saturday, as he submitted John Moraga with a fifth-round armbar at KeyArena in Seattle. Johnson elicited the tapout 3:43 into round five, making it the latest stoppage in the 20-year history of the UFC.
A Matt Hume disciple, Johnson could not have authored a finer performance. The 26-year-old Madisonville, Ky., native was a perfect 12-for-12 on takedown attempts, according to FightMetric figures. Moreover, he passed Moraga’s guard 13 times and outlanded the Arizonan by a 67-32 count in significant strikes and 112-53 in total strikes. Johnson connected on all 15 of his attempted strikes in the fifth round, 14 of them significant.
Having taken place in his home state in front of a network television audience, the effort could work wonders for Johnson’s profile, as he sits atop a fledgling division still lacking in star power. Therein lies the rub. In a weight class weak on depth, UFC brass may find it difficult to keep Johnson busy with deserving challengers. The promotion has only 16 flyweights on its current roster.
Team Alpha Male’s Joseph Benavidez, the man against whom Johnson captured the 125-pound title, seems to be the logical next choice, provided he can get past Brazilian grappler Jussier da Silva at UFC Fight Night 28 on Sept. 4. Benavidez dropped a split decision against Johnson at UFC 152 and undoubtedly wants a chance to right that wrong.
Still in his prime at age 28, Benavidez has since rattled off back-to-back wins over Ian McCall and Darren Uyenoyama; a third consecutive victory over high-caliber opposition would almost certainly cement his place as the top contender for Johnson’s crown.
In the wake of UFC on Fox 8, here are six other matchups that ought to be made:
Rory MacDonald vs. Carlos Condit-Martin Kampmann winner: The gifted MacDonald did little to further his cause in the welterweight division, as he pecked away at Jake Ellenberger with jabs for 15 minutes in the co-main event. The 24-year-old Tristar Gym export was understandably cautious against an opponent with a history of one-punch knockouts, but his lack of aggression does not figure to do him any favors with the UFC’s decision makers. A more decisive result could have netted him the top contender’s seat at 170 pounds; as it stands, he left the public with more questions than answers. Condit and Kampmann will lock
horns at UFC Fight Night 27 on Aug. 28.
Robbie Lawler vs. Hector Lombard-Nate Marquardt winner: No fighter did more to raise his stock at UFC on Fox 8 than Lawler, who wrecked Bobby Voelker with a second-round head kick. The 31-year-old American Top Team representative and former EliteXC champion looks like a new man since downshifting to 170 pounds, as he has steamrolled both of his opponents -- he throttled Josh Koscheck at UFC 157 in February -- since returning to the UFC. The volatile Lombard will meet Marquardt at UFC 166 in October.
John Moraga vs. Louis Gaudinot-Tim Elliott loser: Moraga put up an admirable challenge against Demetrious Johnson but ultimately had no answers for the flyweight champion’s overwhelming combination of speed and technique. Now fully aware of the distance that exists between himself and the man that lords over the 125-pound division, the 29-year-old Arizonan must return to the drawing board after being submitted for the first time in his career. Team Tiger Schulmann’s Gaudinot, who has not fought in more than a year, will clash with Tim Elliott at UFC 164 on Aug. 31 in Milwaukee.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Carlos Condit-Martin Kampmann loser: No fighter did more to lower his stock at UFC on Fox 8 than Ellenberger, who seemed disconnected and perplexed from start to finish in the co-main event. Faced with a two-inch height and three and a half-inch reach disadvantage, “The Juggernaut” spent most of his 15 minutes inside the Octagon eating Rory MacDonald jabs. Ellenberger connected on only 27 of the 106 strikes he threw and wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision. Having already lost to both Condit and Kampmann during his UFC tenure, the 28-year-old Nebraskan could be staring at a rematch with the loser of their forthcoming Aug. 28 matchup.
Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis: Carmouche aced her second test inside the Octagon, as she overpowered Brazilian newcomer Jessica Andrade en route to a second-round technical knockout. The 29-year-old Team Hurricane Awesome member has posted three wins in four outings, losing only to reigning UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey. Davis made her promotional debut at UFC 161 in June, defeating Rosi Sexton by unanimous decision at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Melvin Guillard vs. Jorge Masvidal: The maddeningly inconsistent but wildly talented Guillard had no problem taking care of Mac Danzig, as he floored “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 6 winner with a short left hook and knocked him stiff with a series of wrecking ball hammerfists. The victory put the brakes on a two-fight losing streak and afforded the 30-year-old Guillard a more stable foothold in the lightweight division. Masvidal, meanwhile, overcame a rocky first frame against Michael Chiesa to submit “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 winner with a second-round brabo choke.