TORONTO, September 22 - Joseph Benavidez fantasized about becoming “the George Washington” of the UFC flyweight division. Instead, that distinction now belongs to Demetrious Johnson, whose striking speed advantage and matador-like elusiveness repeatedly frustrated Benavidez and carried Johnson to a split decision triumph and the first-ever UFC flyweight championship belt in the UFC 152 co-main event at the Air Canada Centre Saturday night.
Amazingly, after a five-round title fight against a formidable opponent, Johnson’s face and body were without a trace of abuse as UFC president Dana White wrapped the belt around his waist. The 26-year-old Johnson’s celebration seemed relatively mild for a man who just joined the ranks of only eight current UFC champs. Mighty Mouse’s first public comments were also surprisingly without much emotion, as if he did not completely grasp the historical gravity of what he had just accomplished.
“Yeah man, it happened, I guess … It means the world. As champion I’m doing to the do the same thing. Go home, rest, train hard and get ready for battle,” said the Matt Hume protégé, adding he was somewhat startled when he heard judges’ scores of 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46. “I was a little shocked. I felt like, on the standup, I got him there. On the takedowns, I took him down more and he didn’t take me down once, so …”
Benavidez, normally the one puzzling foes with his incredible speed, had the tables turned on him Saturday. The Team Alpha Male standout had trouble hitting Johnson and so he aggressively hunted for takedowns – only to be rebuffed time and time again by Johnson.
Benavidez (16-3) was competitive throughout though, and he threatened to end the fight with a deep guillotine choke in round four.
Johnson rebounded nicely in the fifth round, scoring with body kicks and three takedowns to control the action.
MICHAEL BISPING VS. BRIAN STANN
Rarely have we seen Michael Bisping rely on wrestling as his primary blueprint to victory. But takedowns and a stiff and steady jab carried the brash Brit to his fifth win in sixth bouts over Brian Stann Saturday, prompting Bisping to indirectly lobby for a title shot at middleweight champ Anderson Silva afterwards.
“My desire to be a world champion is not going away,” said Bisping, who improved to 24-4. “But the owners of the organization, come on, hook a brother up!”
Bisping had his hands full against Stann, a decorated U.S. Marine Corps captain who stunned Bisping with a potent right hand in round one, probably solidifying the back-and-forth round in Stann’s favor. Leading up to the bout, Stann had predicted that Bisping, rather uncharacteristically, would make takedowns a key component of his strategy. Stann stuffed the takedowns in the first round but Bisping scored multiple double legs in the second and third rounds, enabling him to not only keep Stann off-balance but also further tax Stann’s energy reserves. Stann managed to get back to his feet, but found his trademark right hand largely negated by Bisping, who wisely circled to his right to avoid Stann’s best weapon.
“Brian Stann, what a competitor, nothing but respect for the guy inside and out,” Bisping said. “(But) I think I have a more rounded skillset. (My strategy was to) land punches, take him down, land punches, take him down.”
Watch Bisping's post-fight interview
MATT HAMILL VS. ROGER HOLLETT
Retirement definitely took a toll on Matt Hamill’s cardio, but the New Yorker sucked it up and halted Roger Hollett’s five-fight win streak to earn his first UFC victory in 13 months.
The unanimous decision triumph wasn’t pretty, but Hamill not only notched the win to improve to 11-4, but he also set a record in the process (racking up 124 significant strikes, shattering the previous record). The former collegiate wrestler sprinkled six takedowns over three rounds, dishing out most of his damage via some vicious ground and pound. Hollett (13-4) managed to survive and had his chances standing against the winded light heavyweight, but lacked the aggression and punching volume to really mount a threat.
Hear from "The Hammer" following his victory
CUB SWANSON VS. CHARLES OLIVEIRA
Unknown to many, featherweight Cub Swanson has suffered five or six broken hands in his career, injuries that would make many a fighter hesitant to put everything into their punches. Yet Swanson always fights like a man with a very short memory, throwing punches with malicious intent every time. His combination of power and precision served him well once again as he stopped Charles Oliveira at 2:40 of round one – Swanson’s third straight knockout inside the Octagon.
Swanson set up his fistic magic with a beautiful left hook to the body that stunned the Brazilian. With Oliveira thinking low, Swanson went high.
“He was tough, man. My coaches tell me all the time, ‘If you just land that one big punch they are going down for sure,’” said Swanson (18-5), who is also a BJJ black belt. “I saw it on his face, so I dipped down to make him think I was going downstairs again and he ducked his guard so I went on top and hit him in the eye.”
Watch Swanson's post-fight interview
Johnson Makes History, Wins First UFC Flyweight Title - UFC 152 Main Card Results
Read on for UFC 152 main card results...