Demetrious Johnson looks as if he’ll be holding on to the title for a long time.
If you didn’t have Demetrious Johnson towards the top of your pound-for-pound list, you should probably start revisions now. Commonly referred to as the fastest fighter in mixed martial arts, "Might Mouse" showed that he has knockout power along with his impeccable footwork. It only took one right hand to put challenger Joseph Benavidez to sleep. This was Johnson’s first knockout since February of 2010.
The knockout was only the cherry on top for Demetrious Johnson’s incredible year. Since becoming UFC flyweight champion at UFC 152, Johnson has defended his strap against John Dodson, John Moraga, and most recently in the rematch versus Benavidez. His only loss so far in the UFC was to Dominick Cruz, and this was before the 125lb. division even existed.
With a still-developing flyweight roster, it leads one to question who else can present a formidable challenge. Don’t get me wrong; new contenders inevitably emerge, and there is always the possibility of a rematch with Dodson, or the winner of the Ian McCall-Brad Pickett fight in March 2014. Benavidez is only 29, and could very well fight for the title again. The fact is though that Johnson has already beaten these foes with the exception of Pickett, and that loss was over three years ago.
2013 has proven to be a crazy year when it comes to UFC titles. Unbeatable champions have seemed very… well, beatable. Anderson Silva lost for the first time ever in the UFC, Jon Jones needed assistance leaving the octagon after the beating he took from Alexander Gustafsson in a fight the champion won by just a round, and most people had Georges St. Pierre losing in his title defense against Johny Hendricks. That being said, Demetrious Johnson has only seemed to become more dominant in his role as champion.
At 34 years old, Urijah Faber is the same old California Kid.
After his loss to Renan Barao for the UFC bantamweight interim title, Urijah Faber seemed destined to be a gatekeeper. However, after finishing top-contender Michael McDonald, Faber’s hopes of becoming champion are alive once again. Even at 34-years-old, "The California Kid" showed that he hasn’t lost a step with his age. Faber tapped out the 22-year-old McDonald in the second round of their scrap, and more impressively, the choke only came after Faber rocked his opponent, who was considered to have an advantage on the feet.
A rematch with the either Barao or champion Dominick Cruz seems the most likely outcome for Faber. At the post-fight press conference, Faber commented on the possibility of fighting either one after the title unification, "I would love to fight either of those guys." Yet Faber has consistently shown throughout his career that as much as titles are important, he is willing to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. "I’ll fight Godzilla. I’ll fight King Kong," Faber joked. "I don’t care."
Joseph Benavidez has entered title twilight zone.
Unfortunately for Joseph Benavidez, it looks as though he’s now stepped into that strange area of title purgatory that was occupied by his Alpha Male teammate, Urijah Faber. Benavidez is clearly better than the average gatekeeper, but at the same time, he is 0-3 in title fights.
It’s easier said than done, but Benavidez just has to keep racking up wins, and he’ll probably get another title shot sooner rather than later in a flyweight division with not that many challengers. After all, in non-title UFC fights he is 6-0 with half of those wins coming by way of knockout. His first fight with Demetrious Johnson was a very close split-decision, but there’s no way of knowing what effects getting laid out in the first round will have on his mental game.
Referee Mike Beltran’s has more things going for him than his beard.
Look out Herb Dean and John McCarthy, there’s another good referee on the MMA scene. When you look past the beard that makes him look like a dwarf from The Hobbit, Mike Beltran appears to be a very good ref. Many other less competent refs might have ended the Edson Barboza-Danny Castillo bout in the first round, but Beltran was able to use his good judgment and let the fight continue. The poor judging of the contest is a different story, but in a sport where the officiating is expected to be inconsistent if not bad, it’s refreshing to see those other than the fighters perform well.