Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (left) and Joseph Benavidez fought Saturday for the strap.
UFC on Fox 9 went down Saturday evening from Sacramento, Calif.
In the main event, Demetrious Johnson put his flyweight title on the wire against Joseph Benavidez. These two have danced before, with Johnson outlasting Benavidez in September 2012 to win a split decision and become the UFC's first champion at 125 pounds.
There were two interesting subplots going into the event, the first being that Benavidez was one of four competitors representing Team Alpha Male, the lighter-weight MMA mecca based right there in Sacramento and founded by Urijah Faber, who himself fought in the evening's co-main event.
Second is that semi-eternal conundrum: If a flyweight fights on national television, does it make a sound? Though the smaller guys have skills to spare, they have historically failed to capture the MMA public's imagination. Would Johnson-Benavidez II score one for the little guys?
These are just the two main storylines that simply can't be resolved on stat lines alone. Here are the real winners and losers for the evening, from Facebook to finale.
Georges St-Pierre on Friday vacated his UFC welterweight belt
It didn't matter what happened Saturday night. Joseph Benavidez could have revealed that he was, indeed, the thunder god Raiden, and destroyed Demetrious Johnson with lightning bolts from his eyes. Urijah Faber could have devoured all of downtown Sacramento with his chin cleft.
It wasn't anybody's fault, per se, but the UFC fell victim to some bad timing this week. Georges St-Pierre, the UFC welterweight champion, 170-pound GOAT and probably the biggest human attraction in the promotion, announced in a hastily thrown-together news conference Friday that he would be leaving the sport indefinitely.
The ins and outs of that decision and its ramifications are fodder for another story or 12 thousand. But its immediate ripple effect on UFC on Fox 9 seemed clear, at least in places like social media, where normally solid appetizers like the weigh-ins were all but ignored as the GSP dust continued to blast across the landscape.
The final TV ratings will help tell the tale. But it doesn't appear that GSP's decision did this event any favors.
Yes, Bobby Green used some wacky techniques, striking, head movement and footwork to confound Pat Healy and pull out the decision and the mild upset.
So why is he a loser? Well, I didn't see any groin strikes, Bobby. Controversial or not, they have to be there. Are we losing our form already? This inconsistency will not stand.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new name in the UFC welterweight division.
Winning three UFC fights in eight months (and two in 35 days) is bound to earn you some leverage, and that's where Ryan LaFlare finds himself after winning a unanimous decision over Court McGee.
The well-rounded LaFlare is now 10-0 overall. I don't want to get all emotional, but this could be the event that marked the beginning of a long high-level MMA run for the Long Island native.
All respect to Mac Danzig, who has five wins in the UFC and is 21-12-1 as a pro MMA fighter. But the 33-year-old hit the dreaded three-consecutive-loss mark Saturday night after dropping a decision to Joe Lauzon.
It's also Danzig's fourth loss in his last five and fifth in his last seven. It's hard to imagine where he goes from here, unless you start imagining destinations outside the UFC.
It wasn't the world's most exhilarating fight, but that was due in large part to the toughness of opponent Nik Lentz than it was Chad Mendes.
Mendes rocked Lentz with the big shot early. But when Lentz stood firm, Mendes (rightly) went to his instincts, hitting takedowns and keeping Lentz in check from there.
It's hard to know off the bat where the fight will land Mendes as far as the title shot goes. But do you see a more worthy challenger out there competing right now? I don't.
Urijah Faber said before the fight that he has always been The Man wherever he goes.
So give it up again for the man.
On paper, maybe it's hard to understand why a fighter as young and talented and gifted as Michael McDonald could succumb to a move everyone saw coming—and always sees coming when it's Faber—in the guillotine choke. But that would be selling Faber short.
He's one of the best grapplers in MMA right now (seriously), and his submission win tonight not only held off a young buck, not only cemented Faber's own relevance in the title picture, but redeemed the evening for the camp he founded. Pretty big W, if you ask me.
Joseph Benavidez looked good, for as far as his title fight went.
But then he lost, and lost in emphatic fashion. What makes this especially troubling is the fact that his Alpha Male camp remains in a big drought when it comes to UFC gold.
Benavidez is still an excellent fighter, and his future is certainly not yet written. But as for UFC on Fox 9, he's just another Sacramento guy who never really seemed to show up in the big spot.
Save the accolades about footwork and cardio and head movement and hand speed. Save the platitudes about how fun the flyweights are to watch, despite their lack of power and box-office draw.
For one night, anyway, Demetrious Johnson and his right hand debunked the notion that flyweights can't finish, can't be electrifying, can't connect with fans. Johnson isn't the most electrifying guy outside the cage (at least publicly), but at UFC on Fox 9, he was definitely the most electrifying guy inside it.
Urijah Faber (center) and coach Duane Ludwig (second from left) have keyed a Team Alpha Male resurgence in 2013.
Plenty of ink has been spilled on the resurgence of Team Alpha Male, the members of which have, keyed by the addition of striking coach Duane Ludwig, gone 17-4 in the UFC in 2013.
On Saturday night, in an event Team Alpha Male essentially hosted, the team members amassed a 2-2 record. Chad Mendes and Urijah Faber won their matches, while Danny Castillo and Joseph Benavidez met defeat.
It's not terrible, but the Benavidez KO loss tells the tale. Despite their amazing success and status as one of the best camps in the sport, they have yet to get over the hump at the very top of the UFC. They'll keep coming, I'm sure, but for now, batting .500 isn't going to get it done in these circumstances.
Chad Mendes and NiK Lentz square off before their fight.
Demetrious Johnson def. Joseph Benavidez, KO, 2:08, Rd. 1
Urijah Faber def. Michael McDonald, Submission (guillotine choke), 3:22, Rd 2
Chad Mendes def. Nik Lentz, Unanimous decision
Joe Lauzon def. Mac Danzig, Unanimous decision
Ryan LaFlare def. Court McGee, Unanimous decision
Edson Barboza def. Danny Castillo, Majority decision
Bobby Green def. Pat Healy, Unanimous decision
Zach Makovsky def. Scott Jorgensen, Unanimous decision
Sam Stout def. Cody McKenzie, Unanimous decision
Abel Trujillo def. Roger Bowling, TKO, 1:35, Rd. 2
Alp Ozkilic def. Darren Uyenoyama, Split decision