Written by: Matt Erikson, USA Today Sports, MMAJunkie.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In a shot that no one seemed to see coming, least of all Joseph Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson retained his Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight title with a first-round knockout on Saturday night in front of Benavidez's hometown fans.
With Benavidez throwing a left, Johnson drilled him with a right hand on the button. Benavidez's legs gave out and he hit the canvas. "Mighty Mouse" dropped four more fists on the challenger before the stoppage came at the 2:08 mark of the first round.
The fight was the main event of UFC at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, where Benavidez makes his training home with the renowned Team Alpha Male, which had four fighters on Saturday's card.
Benavidez pushed forward early with kicks as Johnson danced on the outside. The challenger backed the champ up several times early with kicks, then tried to get inside with punches while changing his stance.
But as Johnson took the center of the cage and backed Benavidez up toward the fence, he then landed a bomb of a right hand that may have had Benavidez out before he even hit the canvas.
After referee John McCarthy pulled Johnson off, the champ did a backflip in the center of the octagon to celebrate. He became the first fighter to finish Benavidez - who now has four losses in his career, with two to Johnson and two to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
Johnson defended his flyweight title for the third time. He won the belt 15 months ago with a split-decision win over Benavidez at UFC 152 in Toronto. Talk before the fight was that the rematch might prove to be much different with Benavidez training under new Team Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig. But this time around was clearly decisive - and not in the way some were expecting.
"A lot of people are saying I don't have knockout power, but I'm always getting better," Johnson said. "We were trying to work on landing big power shots (in training camp)."
Johnson (19-2-1 mixed martial arts, 7-1-1 UFC) won for the fifth straight time and won by knockout for the first time since February 2010. Benavidez (19-4, 6-2) had a three-fight winning streak snapped.
In the co-main event, Team Alpha Male at least had reason to celebrate as founder Urijah Faber (30-6 MMA, 6-2 UFC) submitted Michael McDonald (16-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the second round after drilling him with punches to drop him to the canvas. From there, Faber pounced on McDonald and latched onto a guillotine choke. He may have earned another shot at the bantamweight title with the win.
- Demetrious Johnson def. Joseph Benavidez via knockout (punches) - Round 1, 2:08
- Urijah Faber def. Michael McDonald via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 2, 3:22
- Joe Lauzon def. Mac Danzig via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ryan LaFlare def. Court McGee via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Edson Barboza def. Danny Castillo via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Bobby Green def. Pat Healy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Zach Makovsky def. Scott Jorgensen via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Sam Stout def. Cody McKenzie via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Abel Trujillo def. Roger Bowling via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 1:35
- Alp Ozkilic def. Darren Uyenoyama via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)