Johnson silences Sacramento with one-punch KO over Benavidez

It was the shot heard throughout Sacramento that silenced an

entire city.

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.

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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

wish.

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

witnessed.

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

record.

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.”