In Benavidez's hometown of Sacramento, Johnson proved the old adage that dynamite comes in small packages by becoming the first fighter to ever knock him. The end came at 2:08 of the first round, when "Mighty Mouse" caught Benavidez with a brutal right hand.
As expected, the skirmishes came fast and furious out of the gate, with both fighters as shifty and elusive as they had been back at UFC in September 2012, when Johnson pulled out a split decision victory. But that didn't last long. Midway through the firs round, just as the two came together on the fence, Johnson timed out huge right hand in a flash moment that caught Benavidez flush and dropped him where he stood. Johnson landed four more shots on Benavidez as he lay on the ground, but the No. 1 contender was long out.
It was the fastest knockout for a UFC flyweight in the young history of the division.
"First off, a lot of people saying I don't have knockout power, but I'm just displaying that I'm always getting better working with AMC with Matt Hume, Brad Kerston, Joel Jamieson, and all the coaches," Johnson told Joe Rogan in the cage afterwards. "And Sacramento, you guys have a great fighter in Joseph Benavidez, he's an awesome guy, and I love you guys"
"Me and my coaches back at home were trying to work on settling my weight down and landing big power shots, so just showing a little bit of everything I've been doing at AMC," he said. "Just more things to come."
Johnson (19-2-1) has now defended the 125-pound belt three times, and hasn't lost a contest since dropping a decision to current bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz back in 2011. As for Benavidez (19-4), he now enters a no man's land in UFC contendership. The Team Alpha Male's only career losses are to bantamweight champ Cruz (twice) and now Johnson (twice), meaning he'll have to wait for a changing of the guard in either division before he gets another title shot.