Johnson beats Moraga, defends flyweight title
SEATTLE — Demetrious Johnson used an armbar on John Moraga late in the fifth round and successfully defended his UFC flyweight championship with a submission victory Saturday night before a partisan hometown crowd.
Johnson, making the second defense of the flyweight crown, controlled most of the fight, then ended it at 3:43 of the fifth round, bending Moraga’s right arm to the point referee Herb Dean stopped the fight. Johnson (18-2-1) leaped to his feet with four spinning kicks in the center of the ring to celebrate his title defense.
The co-main event saw young Canadian star Rory MacDonald (15-1) take a unanimous decision over Jake Ellenberger (29-7) in a welterweight fight that left the crowd cascading boos after the much-anticipated matchup failed to live up to its billing. But MacDonald’s strategy of avoiding Ellenberger’s big punches worked and ran his winning streak to five.
In other fights on the main card, Robbie Lawler used a huge kick to floor Bobby Voelker in a second-round knockout. Liz Carmouche also had a second-round victory, stopping Brazil’s Jessica Andrade in her UFC debut.
It was a dominant performance for Johnson, fighting less than an hour from his home in Parkland. From the start, Johnson had the home crowd on his side as the chant of “Mighty Mouse! Mighty Mouse!” — Johnson’s nickname — started almost immediately.
Johnson controlled the fight with takedowns and retaining top control. He nearly got a choke submission on Moraga at the end of the first round, then pinned Moraga’s arms and unloaded punches to his stomach in the second. Johnson regularly took Moraga (13-2) to the mat and nearly ended the fight with an armbar submission late in the third round, only to see Moraga slide free.
Moraga’s best chance in the fight came late in the fourth round when he caught Johnson with a right hand that stunned the champion. Johnson stumbled back against cage, but quickly regained control, bouncing off the fencing and taking the charging Moraga to the mat. The punch left Johnson’s nose bloodied, but the champion never let Moraga mount any offense in the final round and was finally able to get the armbar on Moraga.
MacDonald entered the No. 3 ranked contender in the 170-pound welterweight division, while Ellenberger was ranked No. 4. It wasn’t an elimination bout for a shot at champion Georges St. Pierre, especially because MacDonald has said numerous times he has no interest in fighting his training partner and mentor.