Michael Johnson was able to stuff Beneil Dariush’s takedowns and appeared to get the better of him on the feet tonight at UFC Fight Night 73, but Dariush did make it competitive and in a surprise verdict he was awarded a split decision win by the judges.

Round One:

Hard leg kick from Dariush to start. Johnson has taken the center of the Octagon though and is utilizing a lot of movement and angles as he looks to work his way into striking range.

Dariush thinking about a takedown as Johnson attacks, but his opponent moves out of danger. Dariush with another solid leg kick. Johnson looks to land the jab and now he scores with a leg kick.

Another kick for Dariush. Johnson trying to work in and out of range with strikes. Another clattering leg kick from Dariush. Body punch from Johnson. Dariush starting to establish his own jab in this fight now. Then back to the leg kick.

Johnson again punches to the body. Left hand gets through for Johnson. Knee strike from Dariush. Nice jab from Dariush. Leg kick from him, but then a combination of punches in reply from Johnson.

Dariush drops in for the takedown, but johnson reverses away from it. Counter left and right hand from Johnson stumbles Dariush. He stays upright, but Johnson presses forward and unleashes more strikes, mostly punches, but with a kick in there too. Dariush in danger, but manages to survive the onslaught for now.

Johnson continues to apply pressure to the end of the round and looks to be full of confidence now.

Round Two:

Johnson back to working the jab and Dariush tries to counter with a knee. Dariush goes for the takedown attempt, but Johnson is wise to it and stays out of reach.

Good body kick from Dariush, but Johnson lands a combination of punches in return. Dariush trying the jumping knee. Johnson very light on his feet. Another big flying knee from Dariush appears to land, but a counter from Johnson immediately afterwards causes him to stumble. Johnson got the better of that exchange.

Another hard kick from Dariush. A few solid punches connect for Johnson near the cage. Now back to the jab. He punches to the body. Now upstairs and a right hook gets through cleanly.

Left and a right hand from Dariush now. Kick and a jab from him. A couple of lefts get through for Johnson. Now a left in return from Dariush and another wings over his opponents head.

Once again Johnson stuffs a takedown attempt. A minute to go now in the round and Johnson is still pressinig forward. He rips nicely to the body and lands a kick. Dariush tries to get in really deep on a takedown this time, but while he gets closer than his previous attempts, he still can’t get Johnson to the mat.

Dariush tries the superman punch of the cage as the round comes to a close.

Round Three:

Johnson busy moving as Dariush tries to find a home for the jab. Both land with one. Johnson coming up a llittle short with a few punches. He lands to the body though.

Stuffed takedown attempt again from Dariush. Dariush still working on the outside as Johnson pushes the action from the center of the cage. Dariush is throwing offense off the back foot though, but he probably needs a finish here so might have to get more aggressive.

Dariush working the jab and lands a leg kick. He lands a nice hook. Johnson fighting a little more cautiously in the final five minutes. Darious with a knee strike.

Right hand from Johnson to the head gets Dariush’s attention. Dariush steps nicely into a jab that snaps Johnson’s head back. Leg kick for him as he moves away.

Johnson targeting the body with the occasional punch. The jab connects for Dariush again as the fight comes to a close.

Decision:

A relatively competitive fight here, but Johnson had a big first round and pushed the pace throughout while stuffing his opponents takedowns, so it’s a significant surprise to see that two of the judges here saw the fight in Dariush’s favor and so it’s he who earns himself a unanimous decision victory (29-28 x2, 28-29).

The crowd boo the decision, Johnson walks off in disgust and even Dariush looks surprised by his split decision win.

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