UFC Fight Night 26 helped bring in America’s new 24/7 sports network FOX Sports 1 with a five-hour span of live fights, but the main card kicked off with a bout in the lightweight division between hometown favorite Joe Lauzon and Michael Johnson.
Lauzon holds the most fight night bonuses and finishes in the 155-pound division in lightweight history, so he was hoping to put on another impressive performance in front of the Boston fans at the TD Garden.
Johnson was greeted with boos when the fight began, but he looked composed and ready to go right to work. The two men took the center of the octagon and felt each other out, before Johnson became the aggressor and was looking to push the pace.
Lauzon did continue to press forward, but Johnson was the more active fighter and appeared to be lighter on his feet.
Johnson was using plenty of straight lefts to the body before taking the left upstairs and landing a shot directly on the chin of Jau Lauzon that dropped him. Lauzon got back to his feet, but Johnson kept after him and continued to pile on before backing up after Lauzon seemed to shake off the cobwebs.
However, Johnson continued to push the pace and mix up his strikes as he completely dominated Lauzon in the first round.
Lauzon picked up the pace to start the second round and immediately pressed Johnson up against the cage while he was looking for a trip or takedown, but Johnson was able to keep his balance and pull away from the Massachusetts native.
The fighters slowed down midway through the second round, but that didn’t last long as they sucked each other in to a wild exchange. Johnson continued to throw punches in high volume, but he was not packing the same punch that he had in Round 1. His power picked up near the end of the round and he landed a big takedown with a few seconds remaining as he round out the position until the buzzer rang.
Both men entered the third round with some extra pop in their step, and Johnson picked up where he was in the first round of the fight. Johnson landed some huge shots that stunned Lauzon and had him backpedaling. It was the sharpest striking that we have ever seen from Johnson in his career.
While Johnson was teeing off, Lauzon did nothing but stand right in front of him and eat the punches. Lauzon showed plenty of heart and continuing marching forward, but he had nothing left on his punches and was just surviving until the final bell.
When the judges scorecards were read, Johnson had the clear victory by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-25.
The speed and athleticism of Johnson was the big difference.