Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson was a man on a record-setting mission Saturday night in the main event at UFC on Fox 24 from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, against latest flyweight title contender Wilson Reis.
Mighty Mouse tied Anderson Silva for the most consecutive UFC title defenses with 10. Johnson has still never been defeated as a flyweight in his career.
After the bout, Johnson didn't shy away from proclaiming himself as the best champion in the history of the UFC:
"GSP & Anderson, they were great champions ... but I'm the best champion to ever step in this Octagon." @MightyMouseUFC #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/DLDgkM4lwp2017-4-16 02:20:48
Reis may have been a trendy underdog pick against the dominant champion, but he didn't have much to offer in the early going.
Reis was tentative in the first round, and Johnson was able to establish himself as the more skilled fighter, stuffing takedown attempts and answering with knees and kicks to the body. Mighty Mouse even found a way to throw a head kick while controlling Reis' back, per UFC:
DID @MightyMouseUFC JUST THROW A HEAD KICK WHILE ON REIS' BACK?! #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/hlb4jQmMPd2017-4-16 02:04:32
Brett Okamoto of ESPN summed up the early advantage for Mighty Mouse:
Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN
According to Fightmetric, Reis landed 5 of 33 strikes in R1. 15 percent. And early indication: Takedowns ain't gonna work.2017-4-16 02:02:49
Johnson only widened the divide between the two combatants in the second round. Not only did he produce more brutality to Reis' body, but he also nearly finished the fight in the end of the five-minute period. He floored Reis with a brutal knee to the body, then took to the ground to try to finish the fight.
The UFC passed along the highlight:
The champion is turning it on here at the end of round 2! #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/NLCaj1rGgc2017-4-16 02:08:12
Of course, it wouldn't be a Mighty Mouse performance without a wrestling clinic, so in Round 3 the champion went to work on his opponent on the ground. Johnson owned the transitions and did whatever he wanted as Reis hopelessly looked for ways to survive.
Like all challengers to Johnson's throne, that didn't work out so well.
As the third round was coming to a close, Johnson bloodied Reis and locked on to an armbar that drew the tap from the challenger. And once again, Johnson walked away from a fight as the flyweight champion.
UFC on Fox provided the highlight of the finish:
FOX Sports: UFC @UFCONFOX
AMAZING! Mighty Mouse ties Anderson Silva for ten straight title defenses. Chasing history! Congrats to the CHAMP. #AndStill https://t.co/S9xnTSPmi32017-4-16 02:19:46
Reis wasn't able to pull off the upset, but it was a night that was chock-full of them. Beyond the record-tying performance from Mighty Mouse, it was a memorable night of fights on Fox. Here's a look at the complete results from the night as well as a closer look at the main card fights.
- Demetrious Johnson def. Wilson Reis, submission (Round 3, 4:49)
- Rose Namajunas def. Michelle Waterson, submission (Round 2, 2:47)
- Robert Whittaker def. Ronaldo Souza, TKO (Round 2, 3:28)
- Renato Moicano def. Jeremy Stephens, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
- Alexander Volkov def. Roy Nelson, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Tom Duquesnoy def. Patrick Williams, TKO (Round 2, 0:28)
- Rashid Magomedov def. Bobby Green, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Tim Elliott def. Louis Smolka, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
- Aljamain Sterling def. Augusto Mendes, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Devin Clark def. Jake Collier, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Anthony Smith def. Andrew Sanchez, knockout (Round 3, 3:52)
- Zak Cummings def. Nathan Coy, submission (Round 1, 4:21)
- Ketlen Vieira def. Ashlee Evans-Smith, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Rose Namajunas vs. Michelle Waterson
Rose Namajunas can do just about everything in the cage, and she put that fact on full display against Michelle Waterson. She ultimately displayed her submission skills in ending the fight with a rear-naked choke in the second round.
But it wasn't just the submission that had Waterson in trouble.
First, there was the grappling ability. Namajunas dominated the first round by controlling Waterson on the mat and rendering her opponent harmless.
Just when it appeared that Waterson might have the striking advantage, Namajunas landed a head kick in the second round that changed the complexion of the fight from one-sided to full-fledged beatdown, per UFC:
HUGE HEAD KICK landed by @RoseNamajunas but Waterson survives!!! #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/62ceGFYjyl2017-4-16 01:31:14
This matchup was close on paper, but it turns out that the 24-year-old Namajunas might finally be coming into her own and elevating her game. Waterson never really posed a threat to her as she steamrolled a highly deserving title contender.
Namajunas took full advantage of the spotlight, too. She provided a promo-worthy sound clip, warning the rest of the division that she's coming for the title, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Heidi Fang:
Heidi Fang @HeidiFang
Rose-I feel like I can go all the way to the belt and keep it for a while. Joanna - whoever wins that fight - be careful I'm coming for you.2017-4-16 01:38:43
Given the state of the division, it shouldn't be long before "Thug" Rose is right in the title picture.
Ronaldo Souza vs. Robert Whittaker
The middleweight division has a new contender, and it isn't Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. It's one Robert "Bobby Knuckles" Whittaker.
The 26-year-old had the epitome of a breakout performance against Jacare.
The question for Whittaker coming in was what would happen when Jacare was able to get the fight to the mat. As it turned out, the answer was nothing. Whittaker shrugged off the prolific grappler and got the fight back to standing position.
The UFC showed the exchange:
.@JacareMMA gets the takedown but @RJWhittaker1990 gets back to his feet!! #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/JQbb74Ixp82017-4-16 00:55:37
From there, Whittaker was able to win the striking battles with power in his hands and feet. He cracked Souza early in the second round and continued to work toward a finish:
OHHHHH MY @RJWhittaker1990 CRACKS Jacare and drops him! #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/wpIv4wdbBc2017-4-16 00:59:33
Ultimately, he showed a little bit of everything in finishing the fight, starting with a head kick and ending with devastating ground-and-pound, per Fox Sports:
FOX Sports: UFC @UFCONFOX
LATER GATOR! @RJWhittaker1990 is making his move in the middleweight division. HUGE finish. https://t.co/FkVNgz0Zd32017-4-16 01:08:33
After the fight, Whittaker didn't hesitate to call out current UFC champion Michael Bisping:
UFC Europe @UFCEurope
"Michael @bisping owes me a fight." - @RJWhittaker1990 at #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/tcIgAI6BqD2017-4-16 01:08:42
Bisping and Whittaker were actually slated to fight one another in 2015, but Bisping withdrew before the fight took place. Now it looks like that's a realistic matchup possibility again.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Renato Moicano
What was supposed to be a high-profile showcase for Jeremy Stephens turned into a coming-out party for Renato Moicano. The unranked featherweight defeated the No. 5-ranked veteran via split decision to kick off the main card.
While announcers Brian Stann and Jon Anik spoke of Stephens' explosive power in his hands, Moicano got to work avoiding those strikes and setting his own pace. Every time Stephens came charging forward, Moicano would answer with a leg kick or simply circle out of the way.
The UFC passed along just one example of the Brazilian landing a vicious leg kick:
Holy inside leg kicks 😖 😱 #UFCKansasCity https://t.co/pdkxqhFoIx2017-4-16 00:34:19
It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing strategy. Dave Doyle of MMA Fighting likened it to Kalib Starnes' infamous performance against Nate Quarry back in 2008:
Dave Doyle @davedoylemma
If you put "Moicano" into Google translate it comes up as "Starnes"2017-4-16 00:34:03
Meanwhile, Connor Ruebusch of Bloody Elbow praised Moicano's fight IQ:
Connor Ruebusch @BoxingBusch
Veteran performance from a fairly young fighter in Renato Moicano. I didn't catch all of the 2nd round, but feels like he took that one.2017-4-16 00:35:33
Regardless of how it was obtained, a win is a win. The 27-year-old moved his record to 11-0-1 with the win and should be back in the spotlight sooner rather than later. Even coming off a loss against Frankie Edgar, Stephens is one of the most seasoned veterans in the division.
A win over an opponent of that quality is a huge boost for a prospect like Moicano.