Full credit to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. He’s doing everything in his power to become a star. Tonight, in Kansas City, Missouri, the fighter known as ‘Mighty Mouse’ not only successfully defended his title against Brazilian Wilson Reis, he did so in spectacular, eye-catching fashion, submitting the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with an arm-bar in round three.
Nobody would have begrudged Johnson, 26-2-1, cruising to a decision win over Reis. Nobody would have marked him down for that. But it’s testament to his progress and his efforts to stand out from the crowd that he went after a man he had dominated for 12 minutes, stepped into his comfort zone and seemingly wouldn’t let up until he had become the first man to ever submit Reis. It was that aspect, more than the actual result, and the fact he has now equalled Anderson Silva’s records of ten straight UFC title defences, that was most impressive.
As it so often the case with Johnson’s title defences, the pace and pattern was set early. The pace was dictated by the champion and was, of course, frantic. Reis did his best to keep up but soon into the bout realised he’d have to secure a takedown if he had any hope of landing so much as a blow on his fleet-footed opponent. He tried. He failed. He caught a Johnson kick in round one, secured a takedown, but could then only watch helplessly as Johnson sprung back up almost immediately as if nothing ever happened.
From there, Johnson was perpetual motion, never standing still for even a second, and was also now wise to Reis’ game plan. This meant that when Reis attempted a second takedown in the final minute of round one it was greeted by counter-strikes from Johnson; Reis was punished for his attempt.
Panic starts to set in when a fighter cannot find their range and touch their opponent, be it with strikes or takedowns, and this rang true for Reis in round two. Unable to get to grips with Johnson, he resorted to just aimlessly following the champion, dancing to his beat, and swinging wildly in blind hope more than anything. Johnson, on the other hand, was a picture of composure and confidence. He not only landed punches with ease from the orthodox fighting stance, he also did the same from the southpaw stance, too. He switched seamlessly between the two stances, in fact. On a whim, whenever he felt like it. He was having fun in there.
Eight minutes into the fight Reis finally connected with something – a solid southpaw left hand – but moments later Johnson went one better in the form of a hurtful body kick. It was yet another sign he was too quick for the challenger; he’d land shots from the outside and then get away before Reis even had time to register what had landed, let alone prepare a counter.
These weren’t just pokes and prods, either. Johnson might be a flyweight but his attacks are damaging and belie his tiny physique. Take, for example, the right knee he sank into Reis’ body with 20 seconds left in round two. The impact of the knee stunned Reis as he prepared a takedown and sent him to the ground, after which Johnson jumped on him and landed a succession of hammer fists and elbows before the buzzer sounded.
Reis, 22-7, was saved.
The Brazilian wouldn’t last much longer, however. By now he was desperate – desperate to land something, even more desperate to get Johnson to the floor. It was why he dropped to his back whenever the opportunity presented itself. It was why he beckoned Johnson to join him there. Reis knew he had to make something happen. Rounds were being lost, damage was being done.
Johnson, though, landing over 50% of his strikes, was still doing his own thing. He’d tell Reis to get up whenever he invited him to the ground. If they were going to go there, it was going to be on his terms, his expression seemed to suggest.
So it proved. A sneaky right hand from Johnson set up a takedown, which he executed, and from there he decided to stick around. The time was now. He worked from side control, landing elbows and hammer fists, cutting Reis with one particular blow, and then eventually softened his opponent up and climbed into mount. After that, it was a wrap. It happened so quickly, too. Elbows, mount, arm-bar. The only thing quicker was Reis’ decision to tap.
UFC on Fox 24 results:
Women’s Strawweight: Rose Namajunas defeated Michelle Waterson via submission in round two (2:47)
Middleweight: Robert Whittaker defeated Ronaldo Souza via TKO in round two (3:28)
Featherweight: Renato Moicano defeated Jeremey Stephens via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Heavyweight: Alexander Volkov defeated Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Bantamweight: Tom Duquesnoy defeated Patrick Williams via TKO in round two (0:28)
Lightweight: Rashid Magomedov defeated Bobby Green via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Flyweight: Tim Elliott defeated Louis Smolka via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Bantamweight: Aljamain Sterling defeated Augusto Mendes via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Light-heavyweight: Devin Clark defeated Jake Collier via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Middleweight: Anthony Smith defeated Andrew Sanchez via KO in round three (3:52)
Welterweight: Zak Cummings defeated Nathan Coy via submission in round one (4:21)
Women’s Bantamweight: Ketlen Vieira defeated Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).