Demetrious Johnson was staggered by the left fist of John Dodson, a blow that sent the UFC flyweight champ to the mat in the second round.
Johnson popped right up like only a 125-pounder can and embarked on a rally that resulted in a victory by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47) to defend his crown at UFC on FOX 6, a bout at the United Center on Saturday night that followed a loss by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in what is likely his last UFC fight.
“I got dinged a little bit, but I’m in great shape,” Johnson said in his post-fight interview. “Those things are going to happen. You are going to get splashed. You are going to get hit.”
Dodson was the aggressor in the first two rounds, regularly catching Johnson with punches. Johnson, who earned the UFC’s first flyweight title in a five-round bout against Joseph Benavidez last year, proved to be better conditioned as the fight progressed.
Johnson finished with a huge edge on takedowns and had the more devastating strikes in the later rounds, even if one was deemed illegal. Referee John McCarthy ruled — correctly as a replays showed — that Johnson delivered an illegal knee to Dodson's head while Dodson had a hand on the mat. That hand on the mat meant Dodson was on the ground and made the knee strike to the head, that bludgeoned Dodson's eye, illegal.
“With your good eye, do I look ugly?” McCarthy joked. Dodson chuckled and replied in the affirmative.
No points were deducted for the blow. Johnson caused more damage with about a minute left in the fifth round with a knee to the side of the Dodson’s face, which was already bloodied. Dodson's gas tank was seemingly empty as the champ closed out the victory.
“I don’t think I won," said Dodson. "Some people have said that (he did) - but I don’t think so. I think it was close, and there was one round in it so it was close. Just one round in it - but you got to win those one rounds. I will be back in the title picture soon. I got some things I need to go work on, I should have got out of that clinch better, but when I come back I will be better.”
Johnson was pleased, yet magnanimous in his triumph.
“It was a great fight, I’m very happy the fans liked it," said the UFC Flyweight champ. "He hit me pretty good a couple of times, I was stunned but I am in great shape and my head cleared very quick. He’s very tough, very strong. I hit him with a lot of knees late on but he’s very tough. That was a great fight and great first defense.”
In the co-main event, Jackson finished the final fight of his UFC contract on his back as Teixeira pounded away from the mount. Jackson, who appeared exhausted well before Teixeira’s sixth and final takedown, held out the final few seconds for the bell.
Teixeira earned the unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) in the light heavyweight bout as his left hooks and takedowns were more than enough to impede the former champ. It was Teixeira’s 18th victory in a row and third consecutive in the UFC.
Jackson waved to the fans as he exited after his third loss in a row. Jackson said before the fight he has no interest in re-signing — a feeling that could be mutual.
“I’m happy to end on an exciting fight for them," Jackson said. "I came into the UFC exciting and I left exciting.”
Anthony Pettis is certainly one of the UFC’s flashier fighters and he did hop off the cage to knee Donald Cerrone. But it was a plain old kick to the liver that dropped Cerrone and led to his victory. Pettis followed with two punches before the stoppage that resulted in Cerrone’s first loss via a knockout in his 24 career pro fights.
“What do I have to do for this title shot?” Pettis asked in his post-fight interview.
Pettis certainly inserted himself into the conversation as a potential challenger to lightweight titleholder Benson Henderson. (Pettis is the last fighter to beat Henderson.) The victory was also vindication for Pettis, who Cerrone accused of dodging him as Pettis dealt with shoulder injuries and a staph infection that kept him out of action the last 11 months.
“He’s said I am scared of him,” Pettis said. “He’s talked nothing but (expletive) for a year while I’ve been out hurt with my shoulder. I had to sit there and listen to that for a year. And to wreck him in the first couple minutes like that was more important and better to me than winning on FOX, than getting closer to my title shot, than anything else."
“Shutting that guy up was the biggest thing for me. Now, I never need to hear about that guy again. He’s done, he’s got beat in one round. Goodbye.”
Ricardo Lamas also raised his profile in the lightweight division with a victory to open the main card action on FOX.
Lamas finally broke through Erik Koch’s takedown defense a minute and a half into the second round. Lamas dropped Koch with a kick and followed up with elbows and punches that resulted in a bloodied Koch and a stoppage midway through the round.
“If I get on top, you better watch out,” Lamas said in his post-fight interview on FOX. “I’m not letting you up until you’re bloody or knocked out.”
Koch remained on his back for a couple minutes after bout as he was patched up. He walked to the locker room without assistance.
Canadian T.J. Grant unleashed some brutal elbows to stagger Matt Wiman, who was bloodied early in the lightweight fight that concluded the final fight on the undercard broadcast on FX. Grant finished Wiman with a flurry of blows before the fight was stopped with nine seconds left in the first round.
“It turned out perfectly,” said Grant, who extended his winning streak to four. “My plan was to keep him up on his feet. As tough and durable as he’s been, I’m glad I Was able to hurt him and put him away.”
Ryan Bader needed all of 50 seconds to overpower and submit Vladimir Matyushenko with a guillotine choke, the fastest submission since the light heavyweight division was created in 2001. It looked like Bader had the victory even quicker before Matyushenko wiggled free, at least momentarily.
“This is my first sub since (“The Ultimate Fighter), but I work so hard on my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the gym,” Bader said. “I’m happy to show it off in the Octagon.”
Bader, who has already faced former champs Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz and current champ Jon Jones, angled to fight another top name after the fight.
“I’d love to fight another legend in Shogun Rua,” Bader said. “I think we’d have a great fight and to share the Octagon with him would be an honor.”
Pascal Krauss easily earned the decision over Mike Stumpf (30-27 on all three cards) as their welterweight fight went the distance. It was only the second bout for Krauss since November 2010 due to a rash of injuries.
“I felt very good in there,” Krauss said. “I haven’t managed to stay healthy. I’ve had three fights in the UFC, but I want three more this year. “
Clay Guida, a fan favorite just about anywhere, got the loudest ovation from his hometown crowd among all the fights of the FX undercard. Hatsu Hioki certainly didn’t have the fan support, but dueled Guida for three rounds in one of the closest bouts of the evening, a fight that Guida took via a majority decision (28-29, 30-27 , 29-28).
“He was like a rubber band,” Guida said. “He was so hard to keep in one space so I could get anything going. For a tall guy, he hit me pretty good to the ribs in just the right spot a couple of times. But I think the takedowns won it for me.”
In the first fight on the FX undercard, Rafael Natal battered Sean Spencer for a good portion of two-plus rounds. Natal eventually put an end to the middleweight bout when he got Spencer in an arm triangle that resulted in not only a submission but a broken arm.
Shawn Jordan weathered the first-round fury by Mike Russow in their heavyweight fight, a fist barrage that somehow didn’t stumble Jordan. Jordan rebounded in the second and eventually had Russow in trouble on the mat before the fight was stopped at 3:44 earning Jordan the TKO win.
And David Mitchell put on a strong display, taking a unanimous decision from Simeon Thoresen.
Fight of the Night - Johnson vs. Dodson
Knockout of the Night - Anthony Pettis
Submission of the Night - Ryan Bader
Scott Sawitz of Inside Fights contributed to this report.