The first time Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez met for the UFC flyweight title, it was a tremendously close battle at UFC 152 that saw “Mighty Mouse” win the belt via split decision after five entertaining rounds. The rematch at UFC on FOX 9 was expected to be just as tight, but it was a wipeout in the end.
Johnson retained his 125-pound title for a third time in devastating fashion by knocking Benavidez out cold at 2:08 of the first round. Johnson certainly silenced the critics of his pop by delivering a powerful performance in becoming the first fighter to ever stop Benavidez.
It was a devastating loss for the challenger, who had been on a roll with three straight victories since that razor-thin loss to Johnson. Ironically, it was Benavidez who had been the one showcasing his power in recent outings as he had recorded devastating finishes of Darren Uyenoyama and Jussier Formiga in his last two fights.
The two fighters came out exchanging leg kicks in the opening moments of the bout. Benavidez was the aggressor in throwing combinations. The fighters seemed intent on trading shots when all of a sudden the finish came. Johnson landed a flush right hand that knocked Benavidez senseless and followed with a couple of unnecessary follow-up punches to his prone opponent.
It earned Johnson a Knockout of the Night bonus, and it was his first KO win since 2010. It marked the second straight title defense where Johnson had recorded a finish. He submitted John Moraga at UFC on FOX 8. It’s a big setback for Benavidez, who despite the loss is still one of the best flyweights in the world. It will likely be quite some time before he’s in the title mix again given the decisive manner in which he was finished in the rematch against the champion.
Johnson is just a marvel to watch, and now has proven that he actually does have some power to go along with his remarkable speed and athletic abilities. It’ll be intriguing to see what lies ahead for “Mighty Mouse” at this stage of his career, as the champ has never looked better. It was his third victory of 2013 and definitely his most impressive.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports