UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle
The bizarro world of fandom revealed itself last night on UFC on Fox 8. Spread throughout forums and analysts musings were the supposed prophecies – the real fight was the co-main event between Rory Macdonald and Jake Ellenberger, and the questioning of the flyweight division’s growth while controlled by a “boring” fighter, Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. By the end of the night, the flyweight champion pulled a submission from his sleeves while Macdonald and Ellenberger epitomized careerist fighters, willing to win or lose without risk.
For those who had not previously seen John Moraga, we were given a primer of his potential in the first round, a “previously on” summary with his striking and submission there for a second, and then gone. By the time Mighty Mouse power doubled Moraga and moved immediately to side control, Moraga’s hype went to live with Ellenberger’s pre-fight trash talk, forever stuck behind the wall of last night, not moving forward.
Mighty Mouse’s relentlessness was not designed with smothering top game control in mind. Every take down was chained to a guard pass, ground and pound, and a submission attempt. Throughout the match, Johnson secured a guillotine, a kimura, and finally, the fight ending armbar.
We got better play by play in the corners of each fighter than we did from Goldberg and Rogan. Over the course of the fight, we watched Matt Hume remind and emphasize Johnson the simplicity of his path, along with encouraging a finish, via head kick or submission. Moraga’s corner, however, spent the first three rounds complimenting and encouraging Moraga, reminding him that it was a five round fight. Outside of an assurance that Moraga can double leg Johnson too, there were no adjustments made, no fine tuning. By the time the fourth and fifth rounds came, Moraga’s corner was left with nothing but a go for broke, nothing to lose attitude. The problem, however, is Matt Hume knowing full well what the other team was thinking, reminding Mighty Mouse the same.
Going for broke is rarely a game plan to utilize when being outclassed. It is the game plan of close fights, or fights that have given one fighter a clue in how to win. For Moraga though, his one clue was to catch Johnson while he dives in as Moraga did in the fourth round, rocking Johnson. Problematic with this is the realization that Johnson gifted this moment with carelessness and there were no other precedents of gifting in this fight. That was Moraga’s big moment, and as with any Johnson fight, it moved too fast for Moraga to see it.
UFC on FOX 8 birthed stillborn hype for Macdonald while opening the wide world of fan’s to Mighty Mouse’s elite, exciting style. Macdonald will inevitably move closer to a title, limping from the off balance of his hype and his reality, possibly facing Carlos Condit in what I see as a replay of the first fight. Moraga will return to where he began, a UFC fighter whose first two fights were finishes. For Moraga, this fight never happened, the highlights before his next fight will have nothing to reference from his match against Johnson outside of the punch in the fourth.
For Johnson, the bar has been set, and the differences between the weight classes, how to watch them, and what to expect has been illustrated, again. All evidence should by now prove the flyweights have everything the heavier weight classes have plus more. More chances, more risk per minute, and more excitement over a longer span of time.