UFC flyweight title holder Demetrious Johnson defended his belt for a fourth time against Ali Bagautinov in a performance that cemented his place as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Johnson put on a clinic against the highly touted Russian, stuffing takedowns, completing takedowns, using superior footwork and working the clinch en route to a unanimous decision victory, winning all five rounds according to all three judges.
Johnson showed his well rounded arsenal in the fight, and forced Bagautinov to fight his fight. The win takes DJ’s UFC record to 8-1-1 overall and is his fifth consecutive victory. Many suspect that a rematch with John Dodson could be next for the champion, after Dodson defeated John Moraga earlier this month.
‘Mighty Mouse’ is the first and only UFC flyweight champion and has almost wiped out the division established in 2012, with few contenders available for the champ. A potential move back up to bantamweight could be in Johnson’s future, though for now a viable contender in John Dodson looks destined to happen.
Here is how the Johnson win happened.
Round 1 – They touch gloves and we are underway. Inside leg kick from DJ. Bagautinov has the centre and is flat footed, feinting with that back leg and arm. Johnson now taking the middle and he’s pressing forward, landing a body kick, and again, before avoiding Bagautinov’s attack. Nice body kick by Ali. Nice job by DJ at getting out of the way of Bagautinov’s combination there. A leg kick by DJ. He’s hunting him down, lands a leg kick and feints the takedown. Tentative start, but that is somewhat expected. The Puncher with a three fight combination that misses. Leg kick by DJ, who stuffs the Bagautinov takedown attempt but is now pressed against the fence in the clinch. Knees to the body from DJ, and Bagautinov having a hard time getting the fight to the mat so far. Nice short punch by Ali there, and a knee to the body. Warning for inactivity from the referee. Short right by Ali. Johnson turns the clinch around now, and a huge series of knees to the body from the muay thai clinch. Now to the head. Ali trying to get the takedown, and he does. But Johnson straight back up, giving up his back. Tough one to score.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Johnson.
Round 2 – Spinning kick from Johnson misses, but leg kick lands. Nice leg kick there by DJ, a lot more power in that one. He shoots in, stuffed easily but Bagautinov gets a knee for his trouble. Ali getting the clinch but plum from Johnson, who lands a knee then disengages. Body kick misses from The Puncher. Leg kicks tallying up now for Johnson, who has bloodied Bagautinov’s nose a little. High kick by Johnson now, then a nice body kick. He slips and rips there. He’s just too fast for Bagautinov. Leg kick, then moves just out of harms way. Johnson with a lot more volume, and he tagged Bagautinov there. More leg kicks. Bagautinov’s left leg is very red. High kick hits Johnson there. Knee attempted by DJ as Bagautinov gets the clinch and holds him against the fence. More body knees from DJ from this position, but double underhooks preferred this time. They’re exchanging knees to the body, DJ certainly getting the better thusfar. Bagautinov drops down but Johnson working on a kimura here and landing short elbows, stuffing the takedown attempts. Beautiful knee by Johnson. He somehow isn’t taken down there. Another knee from the clinch. He stuffs another takedown and spins the clinch around. Another solid round from the champ.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Johnson (20-18 Johnson).
Round 3 – Johnson with more of the same in this third round, and Bagautinov doesn’t look like he has an answer for it. His attacks seem in slow motion compared to DJ’s. Big head kick by Johnson there. Ali gets the clinch again but eats more body knees, returning the favour but not quite as damaging. Little happening from the clinch here. Johnson drags Bagautinov away and lands a big knee. They separate finally. Johnson stalking Bagautinov down now. Big body kick, and a couple of stiff shots from DJ. But a nice counter by Ali. Johnson is so comfortable and loose and he’s making Bagautinov guess. He’s just so quick. In and out. 42-5 in distance strikes for Johnson. DJ is so elusive compared to Bagautinov, who is just winging shots that are failing to hit the target. Now a slam by Bagautinov! But Johnson straight back up and gets the muay thai clinch. A couple of knees there. Clinch again, and some nice short shots exchanged. DJ really liking that muay thai plum, but unable to land anything significant from it on that occasion. Bagautinov catches the leg and attempts a takedown but DJ stuffs and lands a big knee. Bagautinov with a lovely takedown but DJ scrambles and ends up on top. He gets the clinch and lands some big knees to end the round.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Johnson (30-27 Johnson).
Round 4 – Championship rounds. Johnson with more leg kicks and movement, and that has been the story of this fight. Nice head kick attempted by DJ, who then dodges Bagautinov’s attack. Nice disguised left by Johnson there. A big shot in but Bagautinov stuffs, eating a couple of shots though on the exit. Johnson misses a big overhand right. Bagautinov letting his guard down now, perhaps through tiredness or frustration. Body kick by each fighter. Lovely combination from Johnson who evades the counter. Bagautinov is landing very little and putting a lot into his strikes, he’s perplexed. Big body kick, then leg kick from Johnson. And then a big knee as he closes the distance. DJ putting on a show hitherto. Good body kick by Bagautinov there, and answered by Johnson. Bagautinov landed a right there. Johnson slips while attempting a kick and almost gets clipped. Body knee again and Johnson decides to get into a clinch battle. 1 minute remaining. More knees to the head from the plum clinch, he’s having his way with Bagautinov. Takedown avoided by Johnson, who then drags Bagautinov to the ground and gets the back. Just overwhelming.
Cooper scores round 4 10-9 Johnson (40-36 Johnson).
Round 5 – Bagautinov needs a finish, simple as that. He’s capable, but certainly the more fatigued of the two. Bagautinov misses a fastball. Johnson with a left-right, backing Bagautinov up. He feints for the leg trip then lands a nice combination, before getting the clinch and landing more knees. He avoids Bagautinov’s counter and gets the clinch again. Bagautinov looking for a takedown, but having little success. DJ with the muay thai clinch, landing left knee after right knee and so on. He drops down for a double leg but Bagautinov avoids. Clinch. He’s just repeating the same process. Takedown attempt from Bagautinov is stuffed once again. Johnson hurt him there. Big combination. Knee after knee by DJ. He hurt Bagautinov there, and attempted a wheel kick which misses. Bagautinov now has him against the cage in the clinch, but does nothing with it. Another knee from Johnson, who has outstruck Bagautinov massively every round. Left high kick, then front kick from DJ. Great creativity. 15 seconds remaining. Johnson stuffing the takedown and ending the fight with a knee in the muay thai clinch. Strategic win for Demetrious Johnson, who is wiping out the flyweight division quietly but deadly.
Cooper scores round 5 10-9 Johnson (50-45 Johnson).
Result: Johnson via unanimous decision (50-45 x3).
Complete dominance from DJ, a rematch with Dodson should be next.
Check out our full play-by-play for the event here. These are the results for the full UFC 174 card.
Main Card: Pay-Per-View
Demetrious Johnson def. Ali Bagautinov via unanimous decision (50-45 x3).
Rory MacDonald def. Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Ryan Bader def. Rafael Feijao via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Andrei Arlovski def. Brendan Schaub via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).
Ovince St. Preux def. Ryan Jimmo via submission (verbal tap) at 2:10 in second round.
Preliminary Card: FX
Kiichi Kunimoto def. Daniel Sarafian via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:52 in first round.
Valerie Letourneau def. Elizabeth Phillips via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).
Yves Jabouin def. Mike Easton via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Tae Hyun Bang def. Kajan Johnson via knockout (punch) at 2:01 in third round.
Preliminary Card: UFC Fight Pass
Michinori Tanaka def. Roland Delorme via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Jason Saggo def. Josh Shockley via TKO (punches) at 4:57 in first round.