Johnson beats Bagautinov to defend titleJune 15, 2014
The UFC's most dominant champion might be its smallest.
Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson recorded the fourth defense of his title at UFC 174 on Saturday, outpointing Ali Bagautinov in a five-round decision at Rogers Arena. All three judges scored the 125-pound contest a blowout for Johnson, 50-45.
While most credit UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones as being the best fighter in the world, Johnson's title reign has looked amazingly one-sided thus far. Prior to the lopsided decision, he stopped title contenders John Moraga and Joseph Benavidez.
"I'm the king," Johnson said. "I'll stay the king as long as I can. I'm going to keep knocking them down."
Bagautinov (13-3) showed resolve in the loss, but had no answers for Johnson. Prior to the final round, he smiled and waved his arms to the crowd, but the gesture didn't encourage much support, as the arena started to empty before the fight was over.
Johnson was flat-out better in every area of the fight. He chewed up Bagautinov's lead leg with kicks while avoiding his dangerous right hand. He was even more effective in the clinch, landing knees and elbows as he denied takedowns.
Final cageside stats had Johnson landing 164 strikes to Bagautinov's 66.
"Ali is tough," Johnson said. "I hit him with a lot of hard shots - knees and punches. I don't know how many times my knee hit his jaw. It's on fire. It was a great fight."
The inside leg kick started to land with frequency in the second round. Bagautinov refused to show any visible effects of the damage, although he couldn't hide a large red welt over his left knee.
The Dagestani flyweight scored a nice body slam in the third round, but Johnson was back on his feet instantly. After attempting to counterpunch early in the fight, he tried to come forward in later rounds but struggled to land offense.
In the fourth round, Johnson slipped in the center of the cage. Bagautinov capitalized on the opportunity with a right hand, but Johnson ate the shot well and went on to win the round.
Fighting out of Kirkland, Washington, Johnson is undefeated since the UFC added the 125-pound division in 2012. He won the inaugural flyweight title in a split decision over Benavidez at UFC 152 in September 2012.
Attendance was 13,506.
Johnson's fifth title defense might feature a familiar challenger. John Dodson, who challenged Johnson for the title in January 2013 and lost a unanimous decision, is the consensus top contender in the division.
UFC president Dana White stated earlier in the week that Dodson (16-6), who is coming off a second-round TKO over John Moraga last weekend, likely would be next in line for the title.
Johnson said he's willing to fight any contender but would prefer a new opponent.
"Obviously, it's up to the UFC," Johnson said. "[The UFC] does a great job matchmaking. Ali Bagautinov was a guy who came out of Dagestan, Russia and had three wins in a row against top contenders.
"There are a lot of challenges in this weight class I need to fight. Dodson I overcame, he was a challenge. There are other guys in the division who have wins over me, there is Zach Makovsky. So, I'm just looking for new challenges."
This article first appeared on ESPN.com