Dominick Cruz (file photo) swept the scorecards Saturday at UFC Live 6. | (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
The gap between champion Dominick Cruz and the rest of the bantamweight division remains wide, and, despite his considerable efforts, Demetrious Johnson was not the man to close it.
Cruz (19-1, 2-0 UFC) scored with takedowns in all five rounds, delivered a pair of picturesque belly-to-back suplexes and mounted “Mighty Mouse” twice, as he notched a unanimous decision in the UFC Live 6 headliner on Saturday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. All three judges scored it for the champion: 50-45, 49-46 and 50-45.
“It was a tough fight,” Cruz said. “The kid’s got a sick pace, so I had to outwrestle him. He didn’t surprise me. I was ready for a wicked grind. I knew I just had to wear him down using my strength and size.”
Cruz largely abandoned the unusual lateral movement for which he has become known, electing instead to force tie-ups and search for takedowns.
“You’ve got to be able to switch it up,” he said. “You can’t fight everybody the same. I wanted to show a little bit of my grappling in this fight.”
Johnson (9-2, 2-1 UFC) gave Cruz fits in spurts, as be brought the fight to the champion with blinding speed. However, he could not overcome the advantages Cruz held in the strength and wrestling departments, as he spent far too much time on his back and in scrambles. In an effort to neutralize the AMC Pankration representative, Cruz turned to the clinch, takedowns and textbook grappling. He nearly finished it in the third round, when he delivered a suplex, transitioned to Johnson’s back, flattened out the 5-foot-3 dynamo and threatened him with a rear-naked choke.
“I had that choke in deep twice, and he toughed it out,” said Cruz, who has now won a career-best 10 consecutive fights. “He was gurgling, and he toughed it out. That’s what you do when you fight the best in the world.”
Struve Triangle Submits Barry
Stefan Struve walked through the minefield to submit Pat Barry with a second-round triangle choke in the co-main event. The 6-foot-11 Dutchman finished it 3:22 into round two.
Struve (22-5, 6-3 UFC) kept Barry at a distance in the heavyweight showcase, though he absorbed a number of powerful low kicks from the Team Death Clutch representative. In the second round, he worked a standing brabo choke from the clinch, switched to a guillotine and dropped to the floor. Barry freed himself, but Struve worked brilliantly from his back, snaking his long legs around the thick neck of his opponent.
With the triangle choke in place, Barry (6-4, 3-4 UFC) hoisted the Bob Schrijber protégé skyward and slammed him to the canvas -- a la Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Ricardo Arona -- in a desperate attempt to free himself. It failed, and Struve only tightened his grip. Surrender was Barry’s only option.
“I’ve been working hard on my kickboxing, [using] my reach,” Struve said. “Pat is one of the best [kickboxers] in the world. I’m thrilled with the result. This guy over here, give it up. He’s one of the coolest dudes in MMA.”
Johnson Head Kick Finishes Brenneman
Anthony Johnson drilled AMA Fight Club standout Charlie Brenneman with a first-round head kick, leading referee Mario Yamasaki to intervene despite the fact that “The Spaniard” seemed to have his wits about him once he hit the canvas. Nevertheless, the end came 2:49 into round one.
Knowing he was outgunned on the feet, Brenneman (14-3, 3-2 UFC) moved for an immediate takedown. Johnson (10-3, 7-3 UFC), a junior college national wrestling champion, met him with a heavy sprawl and proceeded to soften him with punches, hammerfists and thudding knees to the body. His attacked forced Brenneman to escape to his feet in desperation, but there was no refuge. Once there, Johnson clocked the former Ring of Combat champion with the kick that finished it, perhaps prematurely.
“I’m very happy. Everybody was talking crap about my last performance, so I figured I had to come out here and make a statement,” Johnson said. “Like I told Charlie, he was the first guy to ever really have me nervous because his wrestling is so good. I respect
Charlie and his team so much. The man is a beast.”
Wiman Takes Danzig Rematch
Matt Wiman started and closed with a flourish, as he defeated “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 6 winner Mac Danzig by unanimous decision in a rematch of their controversial June 2010 encounter. Wiman (14-6, 8-4 UFC) swept the scorecards by matching 29-28 counts.
The two lightweights engaged one another in a tight-quarters trench war for much of the 15-minute duel, as Danzig ripped punches to the body and landed frequently with counters to the head. Wiman nearly finished it in the second period, as he threw up a triangle choke and transitioned seamlessly to an armbar. Danzig survived and finished out the frame with some ground-and-pound from top position.
Wiman worked right hands and short elbows -- his most effective weapon -- from the clinch, as he bloodied Danzig (20-9-1, 4-5 UFC) and raised multiple hematomas on his brow. Danzig took top position briefly, but, in his haste to seize Wiman’s back, he failed to secure one of his two hooks. Soon after, Wiman freed himself, escaped to a dominant spot and unleashed a hellacious series of elbows that sealed his victory on the scorecards.
“You’ve got to [worry about the judges’ decision], especially when I feel like I dominated, and the judges have seen it differently before,” Wiman said. “You never frickin’ know. I just went out there and fought my hardest from start to finish. I’ve got to give a lot of respect to Mac, man. He fought tough.”
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