Dominick Cruz at times had trouble with Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson’s speed in his bantamweight title defense at UFC On Versus 6 this evening, but in the end he adapted well and outwrestled the plucky challenger to retain the belt.
As you would expect from the bantamweights the first round was fought at a fast and furious pace.
Johnson was doing a good job in the stand-up department, not giving Cruz the space he usually enjoys to accomodate his in-and-out style and show off his quick footwork. Instead he pressed forward and put him on the back foot with fists and feet flying.
That meant that Cruz was not able to utilize his own usual high rate of punches and instead was attempting to pick his shots more. He also did a good job of stuffing Johnson’s takedown attempts though, and also had some success getting his opponent down and controlling him for brief periods though not being able to hold him down for long.
Johnson’s speed, movement and aggressive forward momentum continued to put Cruz off his own striking game in the second round, though he wasn’t producing much in the way of damage. ‘Mighty Mouse’ was also using the clinch up against the cage at times to stifle the champion’s offense and ensure he was enjoying spells of ‘Octagon control’.
Cruz did pick a few nice shots though, finding some success with long range uppercuts, and a takedown late in the round also helped him catch the judges eye.
The Third round was much better for Cruz with his best spell coming in the middle of the round when he managed to spin around and seize Johnson’s back close to the cage and then took him to the mat with a suplex throw.
From their he flattened out his opponent and attempted to sink in the rear naked choke, but despite being in serious trouble ‘Mighty Mouse’ managed to wriggle his way out of two attempts and then got back to his feet, immediately firing back with strikes.
Cruz then managed to get him back down to the floor again, taking his legs out from under him against the cage and rode out the rest of the round from top control.
Into the championship rounds and Cruz was fighting smartly, not trying to solve the puzzle of Johnson’s speed on the feet, but rather continuing to try to take him down which he did successfully on two occasions, at one stage achieving full mount.
While he wasn’t doing much offensively with his advantageous positions he was undoubtedly controlling the round.
Onto the final five minutes and for Cruz the gameplan was now clear. Before long he again had Johnson’s back flat on the mat. In all he had three successful takedowns during the round, with the second one being particularly notable as he immediately passed to side control and then into mount in the blink of an eye. He tried to force Johnson to turn in order to take his back and go for one last rear-naked choke, but the challenger broke free.
‘Mighty Mouse’ tried his best to get something happening on the feet during the brief spells that presented themselves, but while he appeared to be getting slightly the better of it he wasn’t able to land anything especially meaningful.
And so it was on to the judges scorecards and they all saw it clearly in the champion’s favor, giving Cruz the win by 50-45 x2 and 49-6.
Cruz showed why he’s champion by switching up from his usual striking orientated game and instead outwrestling Johnson to ensure the belt was going back home with him. He’ll perhaps be disappointed to yet again have failed to finish the fight inside the distance though.