You can call him the fastest man in MMA. You can also call him one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. And don’t forget to call him champion as Demetrious Johnson once again reigned supreme to retain the gold in a virtually flawless performance over a game Ali Bagautinov to cap off UFC 174 on Saturday night in Vancouver.
While he was a wrestler growing up, Johnson has built his striking to become one of the strongest assets of his all around game and it was on display all night against his Dagestani challenger.
Johnson was in and out like a spring on numerous exchanges landing strikes at a distance in a lopsided margin according to the statistics at Fight Trax. One of the most impressive aspects of Johnson’s game, which he also showcased in his first fight with John Dodson, was a technically sound Muay Thai clinch where he wrapped his hands behind Bagautinov’s head and brought his knees up in rapid succession.
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Despite it being his first title fight in the UFC, Bagautinov was game for the entire fight actually out grappling Johnson with a couple of big slam takedowns, but unfortunately he couldn’t keep the champion on the mat for more than just a couple of seconds at a time.
The fighters embraced as the fifth and final round began as both fighters were still bouncing around the Octagon with all the energy in the world. Johnson again used the clinch to batter Bagautinov to the head and body as the Russian countered with takedown attempts that never yielded him much success.
When the final seconds ran out, it was clear Johnson was victorious, but Bagautinov showed up and didn’t give the champion a moment to breathe until it was over. Johnson did manage, however, to out strike the challenger a total of 164 to 66 over the five round fight, showcasing his dominance once again.
Johnson gets the win by unanimous decision with the scorecards reading 50-45 from all the judges watching cage side.
"I’m the king," Johnson said after the victory. "I’ll stay the king as long as I can."
Johnson will now likely await a rematch for his next title defense as John Dodson appears to be waiting in the wings for another crack at the flyweight belt. Dodson finished John Moraga last weekend at UFC Fight Night in Albuquerque, and UFC president Dana White said on Friday with a win by Johnson in the main event, the rematch was likely happening next.