The Morning After The Fight Before: UFC 174 Edition

He’s pretty good, isn’t he?

Demetrious Johnson made the fourth successful defence of his UFC Flyweight Championship last night, with a dominating decision victory over Ali Bagautinov at the Rogers Centre in Vancouver, Canada, and looked imperious in doing so.

From the opening bell, this was Johnson’s fight. While the first round wasn’t exactly action-packed, what did go down was mainly of Johnson’s doing. The feeling out periods that were stung by inactivity were invariably burst by a Johnson leg kick thudding the pins of Bagautinov, before Bagautinov was able to pressure Johnson up against the cage; but even there, Johnson would deliver a series of knees to the head and body of Bagautinov up until the end of the round.

The second round followed in a very familiar suit, with Johnson peppering with leg kicks and punches that seemed to blur past Bagautinov, such is the champ’s speed and agility, with a healthy dosage of knees to the head and body of Bagautinov when pressed against the fence.

As we entered the third, the pattern of the previous two remained the same, but Johnson’s output began to increase and Bagautinov’s attacks wilted with time and punishment. It was here that Johnson landed the shot of the fight, connecting high with a head kick that seemingly should have done more damage than it did, with Bagautinov able to eat the kick and continue.

The fourth and fifth rounds again saw Johnson tag Bagautinov, seeming at will, with a variety of darting strikes, snapping kicks and flush knees, reddening deliberate sections of Bagautinov’s frame.

With the fight going the distance, all three judges scored the contest 50-45 in Johnson’s favour.

While this was very much Johnson’s fight from start to finish, Bagautinov did find varying degrees of success in the grappling exchanges. Bagautinov was able to push Johnson up against the Octagon on several occasions and regularly threatened with takedowns, but to be blunt, Demetrious Johnson operates at a completely different level to Bagautinov and his 125lbs peers.

Johnson has begun to make viable contenders look like they have no place in the cage with him and Such is his dominance, we’re beginning to see many Johnson vs. (insert contender here) match-ups as squash matches, with any pre-fight predictions of an upset victory for the challenger seem a distant and farcical notion once the fight begins.

With Johnson improving exponentially between each fight, as well as the supremacy he displays over his opponents once inside the Octagon, it is clear to see and that he has risen to a level that his fellow flyweights cannot match. This is the biggest indicator that Johnson can comfortably lay claim to belong to that special group; the elite of the elite, the kind of champion where a challenger’s chances are dismissed as soon as they are announced as future foes. GSP could, Anderson Silva could, Jon Jones pre-Gustafsson could, and now so can Johnson.

Save for a potential rematch with Brad Pickett, whom Johnson fought and lost to in his bantamweight days back in the WEC, this likely marks the end of the fresh flyweight challengers for ‘Mighty Mouse’, with the dominant champ all but wiped out his division in preparation for a series of rematches against the best of the rest.

The flyweight division may not get too much love from the wider MMA audience, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore the supreme performances being put on by Demetrious Johnson each time he steps in to the Octagon.

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