UFC 216 was a truly remarkable event. The main event delivered with Tony Ferguson submitting Kevin Lee via triangle choke. A big headline but not biggest of the night. A rearranged fight that came second on the bill made the biggest impact for numerous reasons. It was not just a record that Demetrious Johnson captured with his victory against Ray Borg it was confirmation of his greatness in the sport.
A truly dominant performance against a dangerous opponent who was 7 years younger than the legendary champion. The finish certainly caught the attention of everybody who enjoys the sport. An acrobatic move saw him throw his opponent in the air with a suplex then catch him, in mid air, in an armbar which Borg try to work his way out of but ultimately had to tap to. It was almost like a WWE move – except Johnson got no help from his opponent in pull it off.
Johnson was tied with Anderson Silva on 10 title defences before his 11th win over Borg, now he sits at the top of the table in that attribute. 11 times he has defended the flyweight strap since become the first champion in the weight class in UFC history. He beat Joseph Benavidez in the final of the UFC flyweight tournament in 2012 to become the main man at the weight. In a close fight Johnson claimed a split decision victory. Since then he has beaten everybody that has come in to face him.
So what makes Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson the best?
Now Johnson can make a serious claim to being the best champion in UFC history, if not the best fighter to step into the octagon. Frustration must have set in when the fight with Borg was cancelled 4 weeks earlier. It was scheduled to be the main event at UFC 215 but Borg pulled out due to illness.
It certainly did not affect the outcome as the champion was in truly dominant form. What sets Johnson apart is his ability in every department. He seems threatening with his strikes. In the early stages of the fight he ripped some viscious inside leg kicks on his opponent. When the fight went to the ground he was even more dominant. Borg had no answer to Johnson when the champion was on top. Then when Borg did gain some advantage and have Johnson on his back he could not capitalise. Johnson was able to slip away from danger and regain control.
His technique is flawless and because of that he does not have to exert too much energy when attacking his opponent. He never seems to lose his composure and be in full mastery of every movement he makes. The champ does not waste anything, every movement has a purpose.
Johnson’s performance at UFC 216 showed just how beautiful an elite level performance in mixed martial arts can be. In a sport were brutality sells Johnson showed that a fighter can use great technique to take little or no damage at all. Borg landed only 22 strikes on Johnson to the 172 Johnson landed on the challenger. The fight stats made even better reading for the champion the more they are broken down.
It is not even just Johnson’s ability in the octagon that force fight fans to give him the utmost respect. It is his attitude. With the Conor McGregor hype surrounding the company at the minute the flyweight kings opinion is an honourable one. He highlights the fact that ‘the Notorious One’ may be a two weight champion, the first in UFC history, but he has never defended either of his titles. The circus around McGregor’s fight with Floyd Mayweather may have made the Irishman a lot of money but Johnson highlights a flaw in his reputation.
‘Mighty Mouse’ also practices what he preaches in this regard. The UFC wanted him to defend his title against former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw but Johnson was not keen. Even though Dillashaw’s style could put pressure on Johnson the reasons the pound for pound number 1 gave were admirable. He argued he would prefer to fight somebody who had worked their way up the flyweight ranks and earned their shot. Johnson seems to be comfortable at the weight and wants to give the chances to people who are natural at the weight and work to make it a successful division.
It was the perfect performance on a huge night in the career of Demetrious Johnson. Flawless does not even begin to do his performance justice. It was 23 minutes of MMA perfection. He was on top from the first minute to the final spectacular moments. Now he can focus on defending his title again and cementing his legacy as the greatest UFC star in modern times.
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