Demetrious Johnson defends UFC flyweight title
Parkland fighter Demetrious Johnson earned a submission victory against John Moraga at KeyArena.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Demetrious Johnson didn’t have any intention of neglecting his home crowd on Saturday night at KeyArena.
The fighter known as “Mighty Mouse” left Seattle with the same UFC flyweight belt that he arrived with, following a fifth-round armbar submission of contender John Moraga in the UFC on FOX 8 mixed-martial-arts contest.
After a welterweight snooze-fest between Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger, Johnson turned the KeyArena volume up a few notches at the 3:43 mark, when the Parkland native toppled his opponent, before forcing him to tap out.
Moraga, who has been the defending champion’s biggest critic, insisted that Johnson wasn’t capable of finishing his opponents off and preferred to bounce around the octagon, avoiding heavy contact.
“It didn’t bother me at all; my job in the gym is to train and train to finish,” Johnson said. “I was trying to finish in the first round with the guillotine and then I had opportunities for the kimura in the fifth round.”
Johnson gave his contender samples of both styles Saturday and managed a few early takedowns that would soon become the theme of a fight that may have all but cleaned out the flyweight division for him.
“The kid really proved himself in that last (John) Dodson fight,” UFC president Dana White said of Johnson’s five-round victory on Jan. 26. “I think he’s one of the best in the world, and he’s unbelievable. Tonight he proved it.”
Johnson outstruck Moraga 112-53 and may have been a unanimous winner had the contest gone the distance.
Settling with what he’s accomplished in the initial four rounds was never in the game plan for Johnson, however.
“Even though I was ahead on the scorecards I’m never relaxing and trying to coast by,” he said.
Johnson held a major advantage on the canvas and in some ways beat Moraga — an ex-University All-American freestyle wrestler at Arizona State — at his own game. Johnson succeeded in all 12 of his takedown attempts.
In the much-anticipated match that preceded the championship bout, MacDonald won a unanimous decision over Ellenberger in a fight that had just 65 significant strikes.
“I was on Twitter, I made it pretty clear I wasn’t too excited about the fight,” White said. “Ellenberger literally did nothing… And in my opinion, Rory didn’t do anything to try and finish him.”
Robbie Lawler (welterweight) and Liz Carmouche (women’s bantamweight) also won, beating respective opponents Bobby Voelker and Jessica Andrade.
KeyArena attracted 7,816 fans, a significant drop from the 14,412 that attended December’s lightweight championship fight between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz.