DEMETRIOUS Johnson was tested by Tim Elliott for the flyweight championship at the UFC TUF 24 Finale, but just held on to retain his belt.
When Matta Serra knocked out Georges St-Pierre to win the welterweight title after earning the shot on “The Ultimate Fighter” season 4 it was called the biggest upset in UFC history.
Following a run through a 16-man flyweight tournament, Tim Elliott nearly duplicated that performance while facing the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
It all started in the opening round when Elliott latched onto Johnson’s neck and fell to the ground looking for a guillotine choke. Johnson has rarely been put into bad positions, much less where it appeared that he might get finished but for a few moments it certainly looked like Elliott might pull off the finish.
Johnson refused to give up so Elliott moved from his guillotine to a D’arce choke, which also looked like a potential fight finishing submission. While that hold may have tapped out a majority of flyweight fighters in the division, Johnson had no quit in him while giving referee Herb Dean the thumbs up to signify that he was perfectly fine.
Once Johnson slipped out of the D’arce choke, the fight went back to the feet but once against Elliott was on the attack when he landed a quick left hand that clearly stunned the champion.
Johnson dropped to his knees to look for a takedown, but it was the punch that led to his change of position while Elliott scrambled to take advantage of the champion while he was hurt.
Despite the brief advantage, Elliott couldn’t capitalize and Johnson was able to recover before making it to the end of the round. As it turns out, that was Elliott’s best chance to win as the champion came roaring back over the next 20 minutes.
After a close call early, Johnson showed off why he is considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport while systematically dismantling Elliott on the ground with a series of stifling takedowns while demonstrating incredible control on the mat.
Johnson even managed to take Elliott’s back at one point while locking on a rear naked choke that had the challenger grimacing with the champion latched onto the submission, but still he found a way to survive.
As the fight wore on it was clear that Elliott had drained his gas tank while going for the finish in the opening round, but he still gave Johnson everything he could handle in every exchange and scramble on the mat.
Elliott even managed to charge across the Octagon in the final round before planting Johnson on the mat with a huge takedown of his own. Still it wasn’t enough as Johnson just continuously moved and scrambled until he worked his way out of the position before finding himself on top in the end.
When the final horn sounded there was no doubt that Johnson had earned the victory but Elliott certainly made a name for himself by giving the champion everything he could handle over all five rounds.
The scorecards came back 49-46, 49-46 and 49-45 all in favor of the flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson.
“Tim Elliott is a great competitor. He has his own style and he made it a tough fight,” Johnson said after the win. “It was like trying to fight a muskrat. When he got the choke, I didn’t worry too much. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I just gave Herb Dean the thumbs up so he wouldn’t stop the fight and then I kept my cool and worked.
“I have great coaching and I did what I had to do tonight. Shout out to Tim Elliott. He deserves to be here.”
Every win is important for a champion, but for Johnson the latest victory brings him one step closer to making history.
With a unanimous decision win over Elliott on Saturday night, Johnson has now made nine consecutive defenses of his flyweight title, which puts him only one fight away from tying Anderson Silva’s all time record at 10. Johnson is a supremely humble champion, but he’ll match arguably the greatest champion in UFC history if he can get one more title defense under his belt when he returns in 2017.
As for Elliott, he may have earned his shot at Johnson by winning the reality show but he proved that he belonged among the upper echelon in the division with his performance on Saturday night.
“This was a highlight for me. I believe in myself. I know that Demetrious is the best in the world so it was an honor to share the Octagon with him,” Elliott said afterwards. “I also know that I am a great fighter and I have what it takes to beat anyone in the division.
“It wasn’t my night, but I am proud of my fight and I am proud to be here.”