Johnson ties UFC record with 10th title defense

Evin Hartsock, Sports Editor

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     After Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s dominant win over Wilson Reis at UFC Fight Night in Kansas City, the 30-year-old Flyweight champion stood at the center of the octagon and was asked about his legacy. Johnson responded, saying, “GSP [Georges St. Pierre], Anderson Silva, they’re all great champions, but I’m the best champion to ever step foot in this octagon.”

     While that statement is still up for debate, as it doesn’t look like Johnson is slowing down anytime soon, he did join the likes of GSP and Silva as he tied the latter’s record for most title defenses with his tenth straight. “Mighty Mouse” has arguably been one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC, just behind Connor McGregor, in recent years and made his case for “greatest ever” even more impressive after his last victory.

     While Johnson made his most recent title defense look easy, it certainly was not, as his opponent, Wilson Reis, was not one to be taken lightly.
Before his match-up with Johnson, Reis had been competing in mixed martial arts professionally for nearly 10 years, winning 22 of 30 fights and possessing a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 10 of those 22 victories came by the way of submission, as Reis has shown in previous fights that his bread-and-butter comes from his grappling, wrestling and ground-game.

     Going into his fight with Johnson, Reis had never defeated an opponent by way of knockout and has not been known as having a great striking game. While Reis is an okay striker, the most powerful trick he has up his sleeve is his right hook.

     Johnson clearly used this knowledge to his advantage coming into the fight and built his game plan around the fact that Reis is weak in the striking game, which worked to perfection. Johnson’s speed, agility and his ability to adjust to various situations on-the-fly also contributed greatly to his win, as he was almost the perfect counter to Reis.

     In the opening round of the fight, Johnson used that speed and agility as he kept the fight upright, avoiding Reis’ takedown attempts not once, but twice. As both fighters felt each other out, it was clear early on that Mighty Mouse had the upper hand as he used various leg kicks to begin to break down Reis’ defense. Using his agility, DJ was able to land 46 percent of his strikes, while Reis was only able to land 19 percent.

     The second round picked up right where the first left off as Johnson continued to use a barrage of kicks, making sure to keep his distance from Reis to avoid any chance of a takedown. There were a few moments when Reis was able to initiate a clinch with DJ, but he quickly slipped out of it with that speed and agility, allowing him to counter.

     The later minutes of the second round were when Johnson was really able to pull ahead as his strikes to Reis’ face were finally starting to make solid contact, causing Reis’ eye to swell up. In the closing seconds of the round, Johnson took his opponent down and delivered a barrage of elbows and hammer-fists to his face. It appeared as though Reis was on the brink of being knocked out, but he was saved by the bell.

     By the beginning of the third round, Johnson’s ability to keep the fight upright had worn Reis out. It was then that Johnson decided to take the fight to the ground, where his opponent would be most comfortable, but be unable to really be effective due to a lack of energy. DJ shot for a takedown, got Reis on the floor of the octagon and then went to work.

     At first, it seemed as though Reis may have been able to escape and get back on his feet as the two grappled for some time. However, once Johnson got side-control, it was all but over.

     In a flash, Mighty Mouse delivered a series of strikes to weaken Reis a bit more, rolled him over and put him in a tight arm bar, forcing him to submit with 4 minutes and 49 seconds left on the clock.

     Reis was one of the more talented challengers in the UFC’s flyweight division, which Johnson has now dominated for some time. He now has a rare opportunity in front of him, in which he can stay in his division and go for a UFC-record 11 title defenses, or bulk up to move up to the bantamweight class and take on a new challenge. If DJ does move up, there’s a good possibility that he would get a shot at the winner of the Cody Garbrandt/TJ Dillashaw fight for the title of that division.

     Johnson has been given the rare opportunity to become the new face of the UFC as he is the most dominant fighter currently competing regularly. With the absence of Connor McGregor, who is still attempting to box Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ronda Rousey, who’s UFC career is likely over, Johnson could easily fill that void if he is able to hold a title in two different divisions. It seems likely that Johnson will remain in his division however, and defend his title for an eleventh time. No matter what Johnson decides to do, he’s sure to provide an entertaining fight that you won’t want to miss.