Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has been nothing less than stellar since becoming the first UFC flyweight champion. It’s a mantle he carried proudly into his UFC 174 bout against Ali Bagautinov on Saturday night in Vancouver.
Bagautinov, however, is no slouch himself. He arrived at this point by stringing together 11 consecutive victories, and looked to make Mighty Mouse his twelfth consecutive victim en route to capturing gold.
It wasn't to be.
Johnson immediately took the center of the Octagon, assuming control, but Bagautinov landed the first significant blow, a kick to the midsection. Unfazed, Johnson kept searching for an opening, all the while using his amazing movement and quickness to make Bagautinov miss with most of his strikes.
Bagautinov eventually caught up with Johnson and clinched, but ate several knees from the champion while doing so, including a series of hard knees to the midsection in the final seconds of the round.
Bagautinov kept clinching to try and slow Johnson down, but each time he did, as happened in the opening round, Johnson made the Russian pay with brutal knees to the body.
As the fight wore on, Johnson’s pace only seemed to increase, while Bagautinov began to fade.
Johnson stepped on the gas midway through round three, picking Bagautinov apart with a flurry of punches, kicks, and knees. Even Bagautinov’s moment of hope, when he landed a suplex on Johnson, was lost in the blur of the champion’s movement.
Johnson never slowed; he never faltered. He landed four- and five-part combinations before Bagautinov could register that he was even moving.
Despite unleashing an astonishing amount of punishment in the final two rounds, Johnson couldn’t put Bagautinov away, but there was no questioning his dominance.
“Ali Bagautinov, he’s tough. I hit him with a lot of hard shots. I hit a lot of guys in the gym with those shots and they go down. He’s tough man,” said Johnson after the fight.
As far as what’s next for him, Johnson made no mention of specific opponents, but doesn’t plan on being dethroned any time soon.
“I’m the king. I’ll stay the king as long as I can. I’m gonna keep on knocking ’em down, man.”