Flyweights, be warned: It looks like Demetrious Johnson is here to stay.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 125-pound king made his fifth title defense look easy against overmatched challenger Chris Cariaso in the main event of UFC 178 on Sept. 27. While “Mighty Mouse” showed off his famous speed and technical standup in the bout’s opening round, he finished the job on the floor by forcing Cariaso to tap to a nasty kimura in the second frame. With two submissions and a knockout in his last four outings, Johnson is quickly changing the perception that top-level flyweights do not often finish fights.
Just up the scale at 135 pounds, former champion Dominick Cruz staked his claim to the division’s No. 3 spot by returning from a three-year absence with a 61-second smashing of Takeya Mizugaki. Even after multiple knee surgeries, “The Dominator” was simply too fast and powerful for Mizugaki, who falls one spot to No. 9 with the defeat.
Women’s bantamweight contender Cat Zingano did not spend quite as much time on the shelf as Cruz, but her triumphant return was just as meaningful in a division hungry for new challengers. Zingano maintained her No. 2 position with a comeback victory against Amanda Nunes, setting up a tentative January meeting with unbeaten queen Ronda Rousey. Former challenger Miesha Tate, meanwhile, rises to No. 4 with her decision win against previously undefeated Rin Nakai.
UFC 178 provided plenty more rankings movement, including lightweight Donald Cerrone’s rise to No. 5 after a bruising decision over ex-Bellator MMA champ Eddie Alvarez, who drops five spots to No. 8. Much-hyped featherweight Conor McGregor joins the top 10 at No. 7 after mugging Dustin Poirier, while Yoel Romero claims the No. 7 spot at middleweight by way of a controversial knockout against Tim Kennedy. Also at middleweight, newly crowned Bellator champion Brandon Halsey joins the ranks of the “other contenders,” replacing the man whose belt he snatched, Alexander Shlemenko.
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