The UFC 152 flyweight championship fight between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrius Johnson has not received the same level of attention from the casual fan as the headlining light heavyweight championship between Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort. However, hardcover fans know that their matchup could well be the best on the card in terms of excitement and evenly matched skill.
This marks the first time that the 125 lb. belt has been awarded, and the battle for it could not feature two more qualified competitors. Benavidez boasts a record of 16-2, while Johnson’s stands at 15-2. To earn his shot at the belt, Benavidez knocked out the highly touted Yasuhiro Urushitani on March 3. Johnson followed a tougher path to his title shot; he fought Ian McCall the same night as the Benavidez-Urushitani fight, but the bout ended in a majority draw that many fans thought should have been a loss. In the rematch three months later, however, Johnson fought much better, winning by a decisive judges’ decision.
On paper, this appears to be a very even matchup. Both men bring incredible speed – both in their combinations and their footwork – to the matchup. In addition, they are both known for seemingly bottomless cardio reserves, and can easily fight for a full five rounds at a pace that would wind many fighters after one round. Both are equally comfortable striking from outside, fighting in the clinch or working for submissions on the ground.
The most obvious difference in this fight is Benavidez’s punching power. Although both men are dangerous strikers, the advantage in terms of single-shot power definitely goes to Benavidez. Both men will possess the advantage at different points during the fight, but Benavidez’s harder and more damaging strikes will earn him the decision at the end of the night.