The top Pound For Pound fighter in the world faced his toughest challenge in his ninth consecutive Flyweight title defense.
However, his toughest contest was not his rival Joe Benavidez or Olympic gold medal wrestler Henry Cejudo, who faced each other to determine the next man likely to face Johnson for the title. Benavidez came out on top.
No, his biggest challenge was The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions winner Tim Elliott, who was granted a title shot as a result of winning the competition. Many did not believe that the fight would go past the first round, much less go to the judges, but Elliott showed almost-unbelievable heart as he almost pulled a world shocking upset in the first round, when he had Johnson locked in a tight guillotine choke that Johnson returned in kind later on, only for Elliott to refuse to tap as well.
Elliott was outmatched after the first round, but nonetheless did not give in, and took it to the scorecard. Johnson stated after the fight that Elliott “proved he deserves to be here.” However, Elliott has announced that he will be moving to Bantamweight, as he found the cut down to 125 to be too taxing.
Mighty Mouse is now tied with at 9 defenses with Georges St-Pierre for second most consecutive title defenses, with Johnson one away from tying Anderson Silva’s legendary run with the Middleweight title.
Other fights on the card included a Light Heavyweight brawl between Ion Cutelaba and Jared Cannonier, which feature Cannonier lowering his hands and invited Cutelaba to punch him, which he did. Cannonier won the decision.
Alexis Davis was nearly choked unconscious by Sara McMann in the former’s return to the octagon; turning beet red before tapping out.
Jorge Masvidal defeated Jake Ellenberger in a first, as referee Herb Dean attempted to call a time out when Ellenberger got his toes stuck in the cage. Dean discussed with Nevada State Athletic Commission officials as to whether he could call it a time out for cage malfunction, as Ellenberger was defending himself and had almost gotten to his feet when Dean stopped the fight. Even as a doctor found no damage to Ellenberger’s feet, the fight was called off and Masvidal was given a TKO win. Controversy surrounded the decision, and it’s likely that Ellenberger will appeal to turn the decision to a no-contest.
The preliminary fights had a few noticeable fights, one being a bloody Jamie Moyle defeating Kailin Curran despite both being covered in Moyle’s blood. The other fight was another controversial finish, as Ryan Hall defeated Gray Maynard via decision. However, Hall rolled and stayed on the ground for most of the fight, actually rolling into a few Maynard head kicks, but won the fight because he was more active than Maynard. Some argue that it’s an intelligent strategy, Hall argued that Maynard lost because he was running away, and some are arguing that Hall should have been disqualified as he may have broken rules set to prevent fighters from running from their opponent/avoiding contact.
A very good show with some controversial finishes and a lot of blood.
What’s not to love?