This weekend, at UFC on FOX 9, Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez will battle once again for the UFC Flyweight championship.
Their first fight, back at UFC 152, was marked by Demetrious’s speed and takedowns versus the power punching of Benavidez. Benavidez and Demetrious landed almost an equal amount of punches (62 to 61), but Johnson landed 49 kicks compared to 18 from Benavidez. The most substantial stat of their first fight was the five takedowns landed by Johnson, compared to zero from Benavidez. In the end, Johnson walked away as the first ever UFC Flyweight champion with a split decision victory.
Since UFC 152, Johnson has defended his belt twice. He first defeated John Dodson by unanimous decision in January and followed that up with a 5th round armbar over John Moraga back at UFC on FOX 8. Benavidez has climbed the ladder once again by racking up three straight victories, with the last two coming by TKO.
Today, I compile and breakdown some GIFs of the two main eventers, previewing their battle on Saturday night.
Demetrious Johnson may be the fastest fighter on the UFC roster. In the GIF above, Johnson is fighting another extremely quick and elusive fighter, Dominick Cruz, for the Bantamweight title. Pay attention to Johnson’s footwork as he pressures Cruz up to the fence. Johnson cuts angles, dips in and out, shuffles his feet, all while attacking and dodging shots from Cruz. Johnson is exceptional at not standing right in front of his opponents and keeping his head off line. Johnson’s footwork is fantastic, and is even more impressive against a fighter who prides himself on footwork in Cruz. Watch for Johnson to employ a similar strategy against Benavidez, to avoid getting cracked with a big right hand.
Johnson is also an exceptional counter striker. In their first fight, Benavidez had difficulty cutting angles and getting inside on the quicker Johnson. He was able to land a few strong strikes, but he could never really set up a power shot. In the GIF above, Demetrious is circling to his right to avoid the big right hook of Benavidez. While Benavidez is swinging, Johnson lands a perfectly timed right hook counter of his own. Expect Johnson to employ a very similar strategy come Saturday night.
A lot of fans give Johnson flak for not finishing fights, even when he is dominating the competition. In his last outing, Johnson thoroughly beat down John Moraga for 5 rounds in what looked to be another decision victory. Instead, Johnson went in for the kill, putting himself in a dangerous position in order to finish the fight. As Johnson looks for the Kimura, he transitions into a beautiful armbar that causes Moraga to tap. The post fight celebration was fantastic as well. Benavidez has never been finished in 22 fights, so a submission from Johnson would probably be unlikely.
Benavidez is an outright finisher in the Flyweight division. 3 of his 5 Flyweight fights have ended in TKO’s. In the GIF above, Benavidez makes his Flyweight debut by absolutely crushing Yasuhiro Urushitani with a big right hook counter. As Urushitani kicks Benavidez, he leaves his guard down momentarily, and Benavidez pounces with a fight ending right hook. The right hook is Benavidez’s go-to move, and will be looking for it against Johnson come Saturday night.
Benavidez’s power is a complete game changer in every fight he is in. He can knock you out with a hook to the temple, or finish you with powerful shots to the body. His ability to swarm a hurt opponent is one of the very best in the division. In the GIF above, Benavidez rocks Darren Uyenoyama to the body, and puts on an unrelenting attack. Two big hooks to the body later, and Darren is on the mat in agony. Expect Benavidez to look for body shots to set up his big right hook against Johnson. The question is, can Benavidez catch the quicker Johnson?
Team Alpha Male may very well have the best guillotines in MMA. If you are being choked by a member of Team Alpha Male, there is a very good chance your night is over. In the GIF above, Benavidez drops down for his patented guillotine against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Wagnney Fabiano. Fabiano is unable to escape the vice grip of Benavidez and is forced to tap. It is safe to say, that if Johnson finds himself in a choke from Benavidez, he will likely be going to sleep.
One major aspect of this fight that is left out in the GIF breakdown is the takedowns of Demetrious Johnson. In their first fight, Johnson was able to land 5 takedowns on Benavidez, and was not taken down a single time. If Johnson is able to impose his will with takedowns, we will likely see another decision victory for the champ. Everything Johnson does in his fights stems from his incredible speed. If Benavidez wants to capitalize, he needs to be ready with a knee or uppercut off a Johnson takedown attempt. Benavidez needs to pick his shots carefully, and not wing right hooks looking for the finish. At the end of the day, this fight will likely be another technical masterpiece and a lot of fun.