Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson: Round-by-Round Recap
TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 21: (L-R) Opponents Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson face off during the UFC 152 weigh in at Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens on September 21, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Demetrious Johnson is your first-ever UFC flyweight champion after defeating Joseph Benavidez by split-decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) at UFC 152 in Toronto.
It was a close, back-and-forth brawl, but Johnson showed superior movement and takedown ability throughout.
Benavidez did come extremely close to finishing the fight in the fourth after landing a big right hand and following it up with a guillotine choke from mount. Johnson was able to fight out of the choke, however, and controlled most of the rest of the fight.
Read on to see how it went down in detail.
Both fighters look calm and ready to go. Johnson throwing lots of feints. Benavidez lands first with a leg kick. Lots of movement from both men—no surprise there. Benavidez initiates the clinch, but is reversed and pinned against the cage. They break.
Benavidez is throwing big shots and is definitely the aggressor. He clinches Johnson, but not much happening. They trade knees from in the clinch. Benavidez looking for a trip. They separate. Benavidez is chasing Johnson but swinging at air a lot of the time.
Johnson misses a leg kick. Straight right from Johnson. Benavidez dives for a takedown, but isn't even close. Body kick from Benavidez. They clinch against the cage again, Benavidez on the outside. Separated again.
Benaviez misses a right hand. Benaviez clinches again. Again nothing significant and they separate. High kick from Benavidez is blocked. Nice inside leg kick from Johnson. Benavidez dives after a takedown again and misses.
Demetrious seems a step ahead of Benavidez, but Benavidez is being more aggressive. Benavidez rolls for a knee bar at the end of the round and misses it.
Benavidez again the one moving forward. Scrambling clinch. Neither fighter scores anything. Benavidez throws a high kick and misses. Body kick from Benavidez lands. Johnson seems the more accurate striker so far.
Right hand from Benavidez. Leg kick from Johnson. Benavidez looks a bit confused by Johnson's movement. A couple big right hands from Benavidez and then they clinch. Benavidez lands a couple knees to the body and they separate.
Right hand from Johnson. Benavidez responds with a leg kick. Johnson hits a leg kick. Benavidez goes in on a single leg takedown but doesn't get it. Nice jab from Johnson.
Benavidez really wants a takedown, but can't get it. Johnson lands a knee as Benavidez returns to his feet. Nice leg kick from Benavidez. Johnson gets behind him and almost hits a takedown. They separate.
Kick from Johnson is answered by a punch from Benavidez. Nice left from Benavidez. Right and a left from Benavidez.
Benavidez still straight up stalking Johnson. Side kick from Benavidez. Benavidez misses a few right hands. Lots of feints from Johnson. Nice right hand from Benavidez. Body kick from Benavidez lands, but he almost gets taken down as a result.
Benavidez is a bit bloodied up, not sure how it happened. Benavidez gets a piece of an overhand right. Leg kick from Benavidez. Left hand from Johnson. Right hand from Benavidez. Rogan says it was a right hand that cut Benavidez. Double leg take down from Benavidez, but Johnson is right back to his feet.
They`re clinched and Benavidez throws a knee as they separate. Tough to tell if the knee landed. Left hook from Benavidez. Benavidez gets poked in the eye, indicates that he was poked in the eye, and Yves Lavigne refuses to halt the fight.
Left hand from Johnson. Right hand from Johnson. Benavidez lands a right at the end of the round.
Inside leg kick from Johnson lands. Weird spinning clinch exchange. Benavidez lands a right at the end of it. Big right hand drops Johnson! They`re on the ground and Benavidez is looking for a guillotine from mount. This is nasty! Can Johnson hold on?
It looks like Johnson may survive, but Benavidez still has mount. Johnson escapes and goes for a leg lock. Benavidez gets back on top and is in half guard. Benavidez gets side control. Johnson spins out and gets back to his feet. Benavidez tried a trip, but wound up on the bottom.
Benavidez back to the feet, but Johnson has a hold of his back. A left hand from Benavidez and they separate. Johnson scores a double, but Benavidez gets right back to his feet.
Another double leg from Johnson. He might be able to steal this round back, which is a shame for Benavidez, who scored big early in the round. Side control for Johnson. Round ends.
Last round—let`s go. They touch gloves. Leg kick from Johnson. Kick from Benavidez misses. Johnson hits a body kick, but Benavidez answers with a punch.
Johnson shoots for a double and connects. Benavidez back up and taken down again and back up again. Crazy wrestling scrambles in this fight. Right hand from Johnson. Nice right from Benavidez. Johnson hits another double and into side-control.
Johnson really controlling the late game of this fight with his wrestling. Benavidez needs to do something significant. Nice left from Benavidez. Right hand from Benavdidez. Benavidez shoots for a single and misses it. Single leg takedown attempt from Johnson—doesn`t get it.
Lunging punches from Benavidez that don`t land. Johnson clinches Benavidez against the cage. They separate. Johnson shoots, but doesn`t get the takedown.
Fight's over. Tough one to call, but I`ve gotta think Demetrious Johnson took it.
Demetrious Johnson wins via split-decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)
What's Next for Joseph Benavidez?
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This is a tough loss for Benavidez, but the good news it shouldn't be too difficult for him to earn another title shot.
It was a close fight, and the flyweight division is extraordinarily shallow, so a rematch doesn't seem farfetched.
How about matching Benavidez with Ian McCall next? That promises to be an exciting fight.
What's Next for Demetrious Johnson?
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The new flyweight champion's future is uncertain at this point as his division is lacking in contenders.
I believe if John Dodson wins his next fight, Dodson vs. Johnson might make the most sense.