John Moraga let Demetrious Johnson finish for once.
Johnson — who was knocked for being “boring” and had his will to end fights questioned by Moraga — defended his UFC flyweight belt Saturday night with a fifth-round submission (armbar) at UFC on FOX 8 at KeyArena.
“It didn’t bother me at all,” Johnson said of Moraga’s verbal jabs in recent weeks. “My job at the gym is to train to finish. In the fifth round, I knew I was ahead on the scorecards, but I never just relax and try to coast. My job is to finish.”
He just hadn’t done it in nearly three years, at least until he had Moraga in trouble near the cage late in the fifth round. Johnson’s grip on Moraga’s right arm tightened, causing Moraga to tap out with 1:17 left.
Moraga paced and let out a few screams of anger before Johnson’s arm was raised after his second successful title defense. He earned the Submission of the Night Bonus worth $50,000.
“I was frustrated,” Moraga said. “It was just a fight. He had more in certain areas and had me (in dangerous) positions longer than I needed to be. I was just (upset) about my performance.”
Johnson, who fought for the first time since a serious shoulder injury that required surgery, controlled the opening rounds, using quick takedowns to put Moraga on the defensive. Johnson had a guillotine choke applied, but time expired in the first round before he had Moraga in serious trouble.
In total, Johnson was successful in all 12 of his takedown attempts, according to FightMetric.com. Johnson also landed 74.6 percent of his punches (112 of 150).
It was another stellar performance by the only champ the young 125-pound division has known.
“I’ve beaten the best of the flyweight division,” Johnson said. “There are some up-and-coming fighters. There are some key matchups coming up and there are a couple flyweights I haven’t fought.”
Johnson also mentioned the possibility of heading back to bantamweight (135) or maybe some sort of “super fight” with a champ from a higher weight division.
“I think everybody is focused on Anderson Silva and GSP [Georges St-Pierre] and all those guys, but I think we can make our own Super Fight in the lighter divisions,” Johnson said.
TRASH TALK MORE INTERESTING
The trash talking between welterweights Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald proved far more interesting than their co-main event.
The fight remained upright for all but the closing minute of the three-round bout as MacDonald jabbed his way to a unanimous victory, 30-27, 29-28, 30-27. Boos echoed throughout the building, even as the decision was announced.
“I obviously look to finish fights, but he’s a good fighter, so what can you do?” MacDonald said. “I think I had him worried with the elbows because he didn’t want to come near me after that. That wasn’t my game plan, but I accomplished what I needed to do.”
MacDonald ran his winning streak to five fights, but this may not have been the type of performance that would give him an automatic title shot in the division ruled for years by St-Pierre.
“When you got these fights where the guys talked (expletive), the fights always suck,” UFC president Dana White said. “It was a highly anticipated fight that overshadowed the game event and it didn’t live up to the hype.”
RULE OF ‘LAW’
Robbie Lawler continued to impress in his return to the UFC.
He battered Bobby Voelker — who stepped in several days ago to replace an injured Siyar Bahadurzada — throughout the first round, opening a cut on the bridge of Voelker’s nose early.
A kick to the side of Voelker’s head in the opening seconds of the second round ended the fight, as Lawler won his second UFC fight after an eight-plus year absence.
MORE CARMOUCHE HISTORY
Liz Carmouche — who fell to Ronda Rousey in the debut of the UFC bantamweight women’s division in February — made history again. She earned a second-round TKO victory (punches) in the first bout featuring two openly gay UFC fighters.
Carmouche spent much of the first round locked in a guillotine choke of Jessica Andrade. Andrade, however, was never able to ratchet it down before time expired in the first.
“I felt safe,” Carmouche said. “It (the hold) wasn’t deep. She was over my chin. I just couldn’t get my head loose. As tiny as she is, getting my hands free was difficult.”
From there, it was all Carmouche. She pummeled Andrade with punches and nearly had a couple of submissions before the bout was stopped with a minute left in the second.
“I really thought I had her in the first round,” Andrade said. “In the second round, my plan was to go in with my striking and try to hold her down. It just didn’t happen.”
The undercard was long on decisions, especially of the split variety. Stoppages were rare by comparison, but stunning.
Jorge Masvidal clamped down a d’arce choke as time ticked down in the second round against Michael Chiesa, a lightweight bout that concluded the FX portion of the card. Chiesa tapped out with a second left in the round.
The loss for Chiesa was the first for the former Ultimate Fighter champion in 10 pro fights — and it came in his home state, no less.
Melvin Guillard, who had lost two fights in a row and four of his last five, used a left hand to drop Mac Danzig midway through the second round of their lightweight bout. Guillard followed with several more hammer fists before the bout was halted.
“This win means a lot to me,” said Guillard, who earned the Knockout of the Night bonus. “It means I can put those two losses behind me. I can get back to winning and get back to the top five. There’s no pressure — as long as I’m well prepared and train hard, no one can beat me at 155. This is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Yaotzin Meza beat John Albert via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round of the first preliminary fight of the afternoon.
Four of the first five fights on the undercard were deemed to be split decisions — and a few of those cards had some odd scores. The four splits tied a UFC record for most in an event.
Daron Cruickshank defeated Yves Edwards by scores of 30-27, 27-30, 30-27 in their lightweight fight. Middleweight Ed Herman beat Trevor Smith by scores of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28, a bout that earned each fighters Fight of the Night bonuses.
There were different judges who ruled 30-27 in favor of the loser in those splits.
“The 30-27 is just (expletive) ridiculous,” White said. “This (record) isn’t legit. Those weren’t legit split decisions. At one point, I was like, ‘Is somebody (expletive) with us right now?’ ”
The other early splits included Justin Salas’ win over Aaron Riley (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) and Germaine de Randamie’s victory over Julie Kedzie (30-27, 28-29, 29-28).
The only unanimous decision of the prelims was Danny Castillo’s victory over Tim Means. That was scored 29-28 on all three cards. Means came in five pounds over the lightweight limit of 155 pounds and had to hand over 20 percent of his purse to Castillo.
“He’s a tough guy and he came in heavy,” Castillo said. “I don’t really have any excuses, but he was tough. My performance wasn’t what I planned it would be, but I’m happy because it’s another win and I earned it.”