SEATTLE — Demetrious Johnson could have coasted for the final round, knowing he was comfortably ahead on the scorecards and easily on his way to retaining the UFC flyweight title.
Johnson wanted more. So even though it put him at risk, Johnson made sure he finished with a flourish.
“He couldn’t have fought a more perfect, on point fight tonight,” UFC President Dana White said. “He just looked amazing.”
Johnson successfully defended his title on Saturday night, using an armbar on John Moraga late in the fifth round for a submission victory before a partisan hometown crowd. Making the second defense of the flyweight crown, Johnson controlled most of the fight, then ended it at 3:43 of the fifth round, bending Moraga’s right arm to the point referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
Johnson (18-2-1) leaped to his feet with four spinning kicks in the center of the ring to celebrate his title defense.
“Even though I was ahead on the scorecards, I’ve never just relaxed and just coasted by,” Johnson said. “My job is to finish and to push the pace. I just took it and so happened it happened.”
The co-main event saw young Canadian star Rory MacDonald (15-1) take a unanimous decision over Jake Ellenberger (29-7) in a welterweight fight that left the crowd cascading boos after the much-anticipated matchup failed to live up to its billing.
MacDonald’s strategy of avoiding Ellenberger’s big punches worked as he ran his winning streak to five, even if White and the rest of the crowd were left bored.
“It was a highly anticipated fight that overshadowed the main event and didn’t live up to the hype,” White said.
In other fights on the main card, Robbie Lawler used a huge kick to floor Bobby Voelker in a second-round knockout. Liz Carmouche also had a second-round victory, stopping Brazil’s Jessica Andrade in her UFC debut.
It was a dominant performance for Johnson, fighting less than an hour from his home in Parkland. From the start, Johnson had the home crowd on his side as the chant of “Mighty Mouse! Mighty Mouse!” — Johnson’s nickname — started almost immediately.
Johnson controlled the fight with takedowns and retaining top control. He nearly got a choke submission on Moraga at the end of the first round, then pinned Moraga’s arms and unloaded punches to his stomach in the second. Johnson regularly took Moraga (13-2) to the mat and nearly ended the fight with an armbar submission late in the third round, only to see Moraga slide free.
Moraga’s best chance in the fight came late in the fourth round when he caught Johnson with a right hand that stunned the champion. Johnson stumbled back against cage, but quickly regained control, bouncing off the fencing and taking the charging Moraga to the mat. The punch left Johnson’s nose bloodied, but the champion never let Moraga mount any offense in the final round and was finally able to get the armbar on Moraga.
“Some of the stuff I got beat with today we trained to do certain things in those situations and I didn’t get it done,” Moraga said.
Full results from Saturday night:
Yaotzin Meza def. John Albert via Submission Round 2 (Rear-Naked Choke)
Justin Salas def. Aaron Riley via Split Decision
Germaine de Randamie def. Julie Kedzie via Split Decision
Ed Herman def. Trevor Smith via Split Decision
Daron Cruickshank def. Yves Edwards via Split Decision
Melvin Guillard def. Mac Danzig via Knockout Round 2 (Strikes)
Danny Castillo def. Tim Means via Unanimous Decision
Jorge Masvidal def. Michael Chiesa via Submission Round 2 (D’arce Choke)
Liz Carmouche def. Jessica Andrade via TKO Round 2 (Strikes)
Robbie Lawler def. Bobby Voelker via Knockout Round 2 (Head Kick)
Rory MacDonald def. Jake Ellenberger via Unanimous Decision
Demetrious Johnson def. John Moraga via Submission Round 5 (Armbar)