It was the shot heard throughout Sacramento that silenced an
Demetrious Johnson with one right hand solidified his standing
as the UFC flyweight champion while ending his rivalry with Joseph
Benavidez in one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring
performances the 125-pound division has ever seen.
The first fight between Johnson and Benavidez was as close as a
bout could be with the final scores returning a split decision
between the competitors. That night ended with Johnson’s hand
raised as the first-ever UFC flyweight champion.
The defeat only motivated Benavidez, who began working with
coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig not long after the first fight with
Johnson, while vowing to get back to another title shot. Three
fights, three wins and two knockouts later and Benavidez got his
The only problem was Johnson wasn’t sitting back and just
waiting for Benavidez to return — he went out and twice
defended his belt. His recent win over John Moraga was at the time
the crowning achievement of Johnson’s reign, but that all changed
after what transpired on Saturday night in Sacramento.
As the two fighters met in the center of the Octagon, Benavidez
immediately tried to set the tone with a few powerful punches and
kicks being tossed at the champion. As composed as any fighter in
the UFC, Johnson quickly avoided the dangerous strikes and reset
for an offensive attack of his own.
Just as the two-minute mark in the fight expired, Johnson and
Benavidez moved toward the cage as both uncorked punches aimed at
each other’s heads. Johnson’s landed with surgical precision, and
as his right hand crashed into Benavidez’s jaw, the Team Alpha Male
fighter crumbled to the mat.
Johnson jumped on top and quickly dropped four or five more
punches, but that was only because referee John McCarthy was behind
the fighters when the first one landed that knocked Benavidez out
cold. Johnson popped up from the ground and immediately began his
celebration as a stunned and shocked crowd sat with their
collective jaws on the floor wondering what they just
The finish came at 2:08 of the first round. Johnson landed just
nine total strikes, but only one mattered when it was over.
Benavidez (19-4) laid motionless on the mat for a few moments
before sitting up with a look of obvious disappointment after
suffering the first knockout loss of his 20-plus fight career. It
was a heartbreaking moment for the New Mexico-native as he tried to
bring back the first major title to Team Alpha Male, but instead
went home without the gold and a second loss to Johnson on his
While the flyweight division is less than two years old, Johnson
has been the king atop the throne since the beginning. He can now
tout his first knockout since moving to the UFC in early 2011 and
first in his career since 2010.
The win keeps Johnson (19-2-1) flawless at 125 pounds since the
division was created by the UFC, and he also puts to bed his
rivalry with Benavidez, who he has now defeated on two different
occasions. The second fight ending by knockout in the first round
all but guarantees there won’t be a third fight.
“Tonight was a great moment for my career but in reality
it’s just another fight,” Johnson said after the win. “My
goal is to keep evolving and displaying my skill set to fans and
having them enjoy my fights.”