Demetrious Johnson thinks a third meeting with Joseph Benavidez is a possibility. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Demetrious Johnson believes he will stand opposite Joseph Benavidez once again down the road, despite scoring a devastating knockout over his rival in their UFC on Fox 9 rematch.
“Joseph Benavidez is a great fighter,” Johnson told Fox Sports following his victory at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif. “He’s going to come back and climb that mountain, and we’re going to fight again. I know the UFC doesn’t like to give out third title fights, but if we’ve got to fight again, I’m all for it.”
Johnson -- who edged Benavidez via split decision in their first meeting to become the inaugural UFC flyweight champion -- went about his business efficiently in Saturday night’s main event, earning his quickest stoppage victory since February 2010 by dropping Benavidez with a stinging counter right hand to retain his title.
“When I was out there, I was trying to get my timing and get my footwork going,” said Johnson. “I noticed the way he was defending, he was all over the place. My coaches [told me] to settle my feet and that I was a lot faster. I just threw [the punch] from right field, and it landed, and I’m happy to get the finish.”
The end came just 2:08 into the opening period, as Johnson pounced on his unconscious foe and struck him with four violent hammer-fists to sew up his third successful title defense.
“That’s one of the things we’ve really been working on, settling my feet and letting go of my power,” said Johnson. “It takes time. I’m still young in this career. I’m going on two years of being a full-time fighter.”
Though Johnson was the man to walk away with a decisive knockout, Benavidez is the fighter better known for his punching power and aggressive style. Nevertheless, “Mighty Mouse” managed to effectively establish his range and rhythm, catching Benavidez with the fight-ending shot as he stepped into punching range.
“I listen to my coaches very well. I’m trying to get to the point where I can make adjustments during the rounds, on the fly,” said Johnson. “That way, when I go back to the corner, we can get even more adjustments going. I heard my coach say that I had his timing and range, and I settled down and let it go.”
Arguably the most impressive aspect of Johnson’s ongoing title run has been the flyweight’s increasingly dominant performances, a trend the champion chalks up to his support system, both at home and at his gym.
“My family and my coaches push me,” said Johnson. “I cut seven-and-a-half pounds the day of the fight. When I go home and see the smiles on my wife and son’s faces -- I’m trying to take care of them. That’s what this is about for me.”