The popular narrative that will emerge from "The Ultimate Fighter 24” finale main event is that Tim Elliott gave Demetrious Johnson the most difficult test of his flyweight reign.
Johnson would like to point out that Saturday’s scorecards tell a different tale. While “Mighty Mouse” might have dropped the first stanza, he took the next four frames for yet another clear-cut victory.
“When you look at the first round it was tough. But after that I made my adjustments and was able to take him down and outgrapple him,” Johnson said. “He was a bigger guy; I able to take him down. I had him almost in a choke, an armbar, an arm lock. I felt like in the first round he did a good job. You take away that guillotine, but other than that it was just bumps and bruises on my forehead.”
Elliott went all out to upset Johnson in the opening round. He escaped an armbar and trapped the champion in a tight guillotine before transitioning to a brabo choke. Johnson was able to defend the maneuvers and the unorthodox striking approach that followed before the round ended. It wasn’t the first time Johnson had experienced early adversity in a title defense: John Dodson dropped the AMC Pankration standout twice in the first round of their initial meeting at UFC on Fox 6 in January 2013.
Elliott ultimately met a fate similar to that of Dodson, as both challengers were worn down by Johnson over the course of a five-round fight.
“I’ve been in tough situations,” Johnson said. “When I fought Dodson he dropped me twice in the first round. It was a great first round for Tim Elliott, but once I made my adjustments it was downhill for him.”
With Jon Jones constantly sidelined by a litany of issues, many view Johnson as the sport’s pound-for-pound king. While precarious moments have been few and far between during his reign, Johnson appreciates when they do arrive.
“Tim’s tough. He fights. He likes to push. I think sometimes as a champion you need to have those fights so you can show that you can make adjustments and show dominance,” he said. “I’m very satisfied with my performance tonight. You guys heard the scorecards, and it sounds like four out of five is pretty damn good.”
Johnson has now defended the flyweight belt nine consecutive times, leaving him one short of Anderson Silva’s promotional record for most title defenses. Still, championship hardware is not what drives Johnson.
“I’m a self motivator. I didn’t get in this sport to become a champion. I got in this sport to become a better mixed martial artist,” he said. “This is the byproduct from learning, pushing myself and always wanting more for myself.”