The UFC 152 co-main event featured the promotion's inaugural flyweight title fight, a closely contested bout between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson.
The bout was defined by speed—not surprising for a flyweight match—though it was the speed of Johnson that defined the bout's victory. By no means did Benavidez look lost during the 25-minute battle, but he was continually frustrated by an opponent who was able to do damage and slip away before the return fire could hit its mark.
The contest began with Benavidez methodically stalking Johnson, throwing out leg kicks and punching his way into the clinch. Closing the distance and cutting off Johnson's angles seemed to be part of Benavidez's game plan, but he was unable to execute consistently.
After feeling out his opponent for the fight's first minute, Johnson began dancing circles around Benavidez, landing quick punches and giving him the slip every time he tried for the clinch.
Round 2 was a bit closer, with Benavidez gaining the clinch a bit more often, though not doing a whole lot with it. Johnson continued to exhibit his speed advantage, making some of his opponent's attack seem in slow motion.
The following round featured more of the same, Johnson besting Benavidez, preventing him from finding his range.
At this point, the outcome of the story was becoming clear. Johnson was proving to be just too fast.
Then a glimmer of hope came for Benavidez.
Early into Round 4, Benavidez landed a right bomb that changed the complexion of what had been a fight shaped almost exclusively by Johnson's wicked speed. The punch sent Johnson sprawling to the ground, where Benavidez followed him and sunk in a mounted guillotine that put Mighty Mouse in serious danger.
Johnson somehow weathered the submission attempt, which Benavidez had pretty deep, to make the remainder of the round competitive, scoring two takedowns of his own. The comeback was enough to reinstate the fight's former pace, even if the round's 10 points probably still went to Benavidez on all three judge's scorecards.
Heading into Round 5, the corners for each fighter expressed the belief that the fight was close, telling their men to go for broke.
When the bell sounded, Mighty Mouse came out the aggressor, shooting lightning quick takedowns that kept Benavidez off balance, rendering him unable to replicate the success of the previous frame. Johnson continued to get off first in the exchanges, beating his foe to the punch and frustrating Benavidez's attempt to get the action to the mat.
In the end, Johnson was simply too quick for Benavidez, who landed the most impacting strike of the match, but could not corner his opponent consistently.
Johnson's ability to get in and out with crosses and jabs, as well as slide in underneath Benavidez's strikes for takedowns was the difference.
The end result of the match was a split decision—that should have been unanimous—win for Johnson. Though Benavidez was game all night long, Johnson's quickness and fluid transitions between attacks proved too much.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your first ever UFC flyweight champion. Based on his UFC 152 performance, you might want to get used to it.
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