MMA Review: #519: UFC 191: Johnson vs. Dodson II

-After UFC 186 had drawn an ultra-low buyrate in the midst of the most successful year ever for the UFC, I fully expected Zuffa to book the next Demetrious Johnson title fight on a free-TV card or as the semi-main to a big-drawing fight like a Rousey or McGregor one. Instead though – I guess because no other viable headliner was available – they ended up booking his rematch with John Dodson as the main event of another somewhat underwhelming PPV. I know this one had Andrei Arlovski vs. Frank Mir and we’ve all wanted that fight since 2004 (!) but even so, the show didn’t hold the intrigue of the previous four PPVs at all, sorry.

UFC 191: Johnson vs. Dodson II

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Paige VanZant vs Alex Chambers

This was a bit of an odd match as hot prospect PVZ had actually beaten a higher ranked opponent than Chambers in Felice Herrig in her last fight, but I guess they want to build Paige slowly and not throw her to the wolves too early. Australia’s Chambers was coming off her first UFC win – a come-from-behind armbar over Kailin Curran (coincidentally a former PVZ victim) – but she definitely felt like a setup opponent for VanZant and I expected Paige to roll over her with little problems.

Round One and PVZ pressures forward early, swinging a combo into the clinch. They exchange punches from the clinch before breaking off, both girls landing. Chambers throws out some kicks to keep Paige at bay, but they clinch up again and trade some wild shots from inside the clinch. VanZant moves Chambers into the fence and tries to secure the plum, but the Aussie lands some really good punches inside. Paige switches to some knees and then separates with a right. Leg kick connects for PVZ. She continues to back Chambers up, but she’s also walking into punches. Nice elbow from the clinch from Paige and she follows with a couple of good knees too. Chambers goes for the takedown, but Paige blocks and they continue to exchange from the clinch. Beautiful hip throw from PVZ plants Chambers on her back, and right away Paige works some ground-and-pound before surprisingly standing up. Big right hand tags VanZant in the ensuing exchange but she takes it well and clinches again, forcing the Australian into the fence. More exchanges from the clinch follow and VanZant evidently has a hard chin as she eats up Chambers’ punches. They break with 1:30 remaining and Paige comes forward with a superman punch to clinch again. Really good knees connect for Paige from the plum clinch. Chambers breaks and connects on a left hook, but Paige clinches again and lands another knee from the plum. Chambers drops for a leglock, but botches it pretty badly and she winds up on her back taking punches. She works back to her feet nicely, but takes a couple of elbows again. Round ends shortly after. Not as one-sided as I was expecting but still definitely PVZ’s round.

Round Two and Paige again presses forward, landing a solid kick to the body and she continues to walk through the punches of Chambers. Plum clinch from PVZ and she delivers some more knees to the body. They separate and Paige lands a kick to the body, and continues to stalk forward landing shots. Chambers keeps firing back, but it looks like she’s beginning to slow down. Clinch from PVZ and she lands some foot stomps, but can’t get the Australian down. Really good knees land from the plum for Paige though. They break off again but VanZant wades back into the clinch with a heavy right hook, and she continues from there to work Chambers over with knees and elbows. Really good clinch work from PVZ. Chambers drops for a takedown but Paige blocks with some hammer fists and then lands a big combo en route to the clinch again. PVZ is relentless. She forces Chambers to the ground for a second but the Aussie pops up, giving her back for a second. She avoids that but PVZ continues to work her over. Big right hook from Paige inside and she follows with a pair of elbows and a nasty knee to the body. One minute to go now and VanZant beats her up with more knees before dropping her with a right hand. Paige tries to finish her off but Chambers shows her toughness by getting back to her feet. She’s taking a lot of abuse here though from close range. Seconds to go and VanZant throws her to the ground and takes side mount with Chambers’ feet up on the fence. She gives her back as Paige continues to drop punches, but she can’t finish before the round ends. Probably a 10-8 round for PVZ, totally one-sided.

Round Three and VanZant senses Chambers is there for the taking and charges into the clinch before tripping her down. Punches land from above and Paige also kicks the legs before Big John McCarthy forces her to stand. Crushing right hook from Paige leads to the clinch again and she forces Chambers to the ground again. This time she looks for a rear naked choke with no hooks. She does put one hook in, but Chambers avoids the choke and so Paige passes from half-guard to mount and bombs her with some punches before slapping on a picture-perfect armbar for the tapout.

Really good performance from VanZant as for the most part she eschewed her usual ground-and-pound style and simply outworked Chambers from the clinch instead, wearing her down with knees and elbows while wading right through the Aussie’s own strikes, before finishing her when it was clear Chambers was a broken woman. Chambers showed heart but in the end she was simply overwhelmed. It wasn’t a flawless showing from Paige – she took way too many counters for my liking and while her chin was fine, I have to wonder if she’d hold up against a heavier hitter – but that’s why she’s still a prospect. For the record though I think Rose Namajunas is going to finish her this weekend as she’s the sort of fighter who can take advantage of slight mistakes, but for sure she’s a future contender in this division.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Corey Anderson vs Jan Blachowicz

Polish striker Blachowicz – coming off a tight loss to Jimi Manuwa – was initially pegged to take quite the step up in competition here against Anthony Johnson, but some switches to the card (no idea why) put Manuwa against Johnson and so Blachowicz was instead faced with TUF 19 winner Corey Anderson, who was looking to bounce back from his first career loss against Gian Villante – a loss that for me took the bloom off his rose as a prospect to some extent. I was taking Blachowicz here due to his experience but was giving Anderson a fair chance due to his suffocating wrestling game, as historically Euro fighters have struggled against great wrestlers.

First round begins and Blachowicz presses forward, with both men coming up slightly short on some early strikes. Blachowicz is really swinging with his left hook. Couple of jabs land for Anderson but he almost takes a head kick. Big combo lands for the Pole and backs Anderson up, but he fires back from the pocket with some punches of his own. Body kick from Blachowicz and he shrugs off a clinch. Another body kick lands for the Pole and he avoids his leg being caught. Combo from Blachowicz leads to him grabbing the plum to land a knee, but Anderson manages to tie him up and now Blachowicz drops for a surprising takedown. He gets Anderson down and ends up in side mount, but Anderson reverses to his feet and escapes a possible guillotine to lead to the clinch. Break from Anderson and he glances on some punches before dropping for a double leg. He forces Blachowicz into the fence and then switches to a single leg, but Jan blocks it well. Anderson keeps trying though and manages to drag him down into full guard. Couple of short elbows begin to get through for Anderson as Blachowicz seems content just to tie him up from the guard. Armbar attempt from Blachowicz and it looks close, but Anderson escapes and gets back to his feet, backing the Pole up with a combo. Looks like Blachowicz is breathing heavily actually. Stiff jab lands for Anderson and he follows with a combo. Blachowicz is still swinging, but Anderson closes him down with some heavy knees from the clinch. Round ends in the clinch and for me it goes to Anderson – Blachowicz started decently but really faded in the stretch.

Second round and Anderson comes out throwing some kicks before landing a solid right hook. Left hook and a big body kick reply for Blachowicz and then he glances with a left to the body too. Anderson fires back with an uppercut that leads to a left hand and a right hook, and that combo sets up a big takedown. He almost lands in a triangle choke, but avoids it and settles into the guard. Short elbows again connect for Anderson, and Blachowicz definitely looks gassed. Nice ground-and-pound from the TUF winner and he pins Blachowicz into the fence and really drills him with some heavy elbows. Into half-guard for Anderson but Blachowicz scrambles back into full guard. Doesn’t matter to Anderson though as he continues to punish him with elbows, Tito Ortiz style. Just over a minute to go and Anderson stands over him to kick at the legs before dropping a big punch back into the guard. Blachowicz looks out of steam and he’s getting beaten up here. Seconds to go and Anderson continues to smash him up with elbows, and in all honesty a big flurry could probably stop the fight. Round ends though with more elbows from the TUF winner. 10-8 round in my eyes for Corey Anderson.

Third round and Anderson looks confident, and he closes in with a combo and then dumps the Pole to the ground pretty easily, landing in half-guard. A kimura attempt is easily avoided by Anderson and then he prevents Blachowicz from rolling too and settles into full guard. And from there it’s a redux of the second round as Anderson begins to land elbows. Armbar attempt by Blachowicz is avoided by Anderson who stands over him and kicks the legs before dropping back into the guard with a right hand. Blachowicz looks badly busted up. Into half-guard for Anderson and he continues to work and takes full mount. The Pole manages to hip escape right away and get back to half-guard, but he’s still taking big shots from Anderson. Blachowicz just seems to have nothing off his back. Anderson stands over him again and then drops some more punches, and the crowd don’t seem into this even though to be fair Corey is working hard. One minute to go and Anderson passes into half-guard again and then uses his shin to pin the left arm down for a second. Blachowicz scrambles, but only makes it onto all fours and Anderson takes his back for a second before slipping off. They stand but Anderson gets right back on him and takes him down again into half-guard. Big punches to the body from Anderson and he ends the round with a thudding flurry of elbows. I’d call this 30-25 for Corey Anderson giving him two 10-8 rounds.

Judges have it 30-25, 30-25 and 29-26 for Corey Anderson. Nice to see judges actually handing out 10-8 rounds for once! This wasn’t the most entertaining fight of all time as it was largely one-sided and repetitive, but it was an impressive showing from Corey Anderson as he grounded and smashed a tough and experienced opponent, moving himself back into the realm of strong prospect at 205lbs. It was a disappointing showing for Blachowicz as it seemed like he gassed early on, but to be fair even fresh I think he’d have struggled against the takedowns and ground control of a top wrestler like Anderson. Onwards and upwards for the TUF winner then and he might be a bit of a dark horse in the division actually as it’s so thin on talent right now.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Anthony Johnson vs Jimi Manuwa

As I mentioned earlier Rumble was initially pegged to face Jan Blachowicz in his comeback fight following his disappointing loss to Daniel Cormier, but instead for some reason he ended up being matched with British striker Manuwa instead in what sounded like a hell of a fight. Johnson was the clear favourite as he’d beaten better opponents and of course had a big win over the only man to beat Manuwa in Alexander Gustafsson, but I was pulling for Manuwa and the upset didn’t seem impossible, as Jimi is one of those guys who isn’t intimidated by anybody and we’ve seen European strikers prove to be better than American ones plenty of times in the past.

Fight begins and holy shit are these guys big for Light-Heayvweights. Good leg kick to begin for Manuwa. Johnson comes back with a leg kick of his own though and some big shots that have Jimi wobbled. He recovers quickly but Rumble counters another low kick with a hard right hand and then shoots on a takedown and dumps Manuwa to the ground. Jimi looks to try to get his back to the fence in order to stand, but Rumble stays on him and then takes the back with no hooks, where he lands some hard punches to the side of the head. Still no hooks for Rumble and that allows Manuwa to stand, but Rumble gets a double leg and slams him right back down. Jimi gets half-guard this time but like Blachowicz in the previous fight he looks a bit stuck from his back. Full mount for Johnson for a second but Manuwa quickly hip escapes back to half-guard. Two minutes to go in the round and the crowd begin to boo as the action slows down. Rumble looks like he might be setting up for an arm triangle choke, but Manuwa avoids and Rumble drops some solid punches instead. Reversal from the Brit puts him back on his feet, but he takes a right hook right away. Manuwa fires back with a head kick into a leg kick, but then he surprisingly clinches. Good knees inside from both men but some boos come from the crowd again as the action slows down. Round ends inside the clinch. Clear-cut 10-9 round for Rumble Johnson.

Into the 2nd and Johnson catches Manuwa in the opening exchange with a clean right hook. Manuwa takes it well though and fires back with some kicks and a glancing left hook. A trade follows and they exchange pretty openly and in the trade Johnson lands a CRUSHING RIGHT HAND that sends Manuwa crashing down! Two more shots over the top stiffen up the Brit and it’s all over.

That was some incredible knockout power from Anthony Johnson. Manuwa tried hard but he was in trouble with Rumble from the off as it looked like Rumble could take him down at any time and while Jimi is a hell of a kickboxer, pretty much nobody in the division can take a clean shot like that from Johnson and survive. I still don’t think Rumble beats Jones or Cormier and I actually think he’ll struggle with Bader if Bader fights smart, but that power is a hell of an equaliser and gives him a big chance against anyone in the world. As for Manuwa I think he’s still a top ten fighter at the minute but he definitely needs to work on that takedown defense if he really wants to progress. Massive highlight reel win for Rumble.

Heavyweight Fight: Andrei Arlovski vs Frank Mir

When UFC says a fight has been “X years in the making” it tends to be hyperbole, but for this one when they said it was ten years in the making, for once they weren’t lying. For those who’ve forgotten or don’t know, back in 2004 Mir won the UFC Heavyweight Title from Tim Sylvia and was supposed to defend it against Arlovski at UFC 51 in January 2005. Of course, that horrific motorcycle accident put paid to Mir’s title reign and seemed to have wrecked his career too, until one of the best comeback stories in MMA brought him back to the forefront of the division in 2008 where he’s largely remained since – until 2014 that is, when it looked like his storied career was probably over. This is Frank Mir we’re talking about though and somehow he rejuvenated himself AGAIN this year with wins over Bigfoot Silva and Todd Duffee. Arlovski meanwhile seemed finished in like 2011 after a bunch of losses in StrikeForce, but then went on a run in smaller promotions that lead him back to the UFC in 2014, and from there he’d shocked everyone by beating Brendan Schaub, Bigfoot and then Travis Browne to move himself close to a title shot, something that seemed impossible just a year ago. With the title tied up in the Velasquez/Werdum series then, it finally felt like the right time to make this fight again. Back in 2005 I’d have picked Arlovski as I would’ve said Mir’s takedowns weren’t good enough to get Andrei down and on the feet Arlovski would kill him, but in 2015? It was almost impossible to pick as both guys are like glass cannons – incredible on offense and pretty bad on defense.

Round One and man Mir looks bloated. He clinches off a short right hand from Andrei and forces him back into the fence. They jockey for position before Andrei shrugs him off. Good right hand from Arlovski and he avoids a counter from Mir. Rush from Mir backs Arlovski up but he circles out and cracks Mir with a beautiful right hand. Another good right hand lands for the Pitbull. He’s beating Mir to the punch. Good pair of left hands from Mir set up a clinch again and allows him to force Arlovski into the fence. Arlovski breaks free again and lands with a sharp inside leg kick. Low kick from Arlovski is countered by Mir and he lands with a combo that sets up another clinch. This time Andrei breaks with a right hook. Nice left hook follows. Really good movement so far from Arlovski. Mir manages to clinch again and forces him into the fence once more, but he still doesn’t come close to getting Andrei down and they break again. Quick combination lands for Arlovski but he also eats an uppercut. Left hook sets up a clinch for Mir again but I’m not sure what he’s trying to achieve here as he isn’t looking for the takedown at all. Crowd sound restless with the inactivity in the clinch. Nice knee breaks for Arlovski with seconds remaining and he lands an oblique kick before catching Mir with a quick combo to end the round. Clear round for Arlovski in my opinion, 10-9.

Round Two and Mir pressures Arlovski back with some strikes before shooting on a single leg. Arlovski tries to defend, but Mir manages to get him down into full guard. He postures up to try to land some strikes, but Andrei also lands some decent shots from the bottom. Really heavy elbows to the body land for Mir and it looks like Arlovski’s just stalling to get a stand-up. Mir tries the old trick of covering the mouth to disrupt Andrei’s breathing, but he’s being stopped from getting any real offense off and Big John McCarthy steps in to call a stand-up. Lunging let hook misses for Arlovski but a body kick connects for him as Mir switches his stance. Left hand from Mir sets up another clinch, but Arlovski lands a knee inside and then separates. Oblique kick lands for Andrei. Mir clinches but he eats an uppercut and decides to break, exiting with a knee. Another brief clinch is quickly broken. Right-left combo glances for Mir. Couple of right hands glance for Andrei in reply. Left into an odd spinning backfist from Mir but it doesn’t land cleanly and they end up clinching again. Arlovski breaks off quickly though. Good right hand from Andrei and Mir grins in response. Both men stand in front of one another doing nothing for a second before Mir dodges a right. Another right hand dislodges Mir’s mouthpiece and Big John has to call time to replace it. No idea what Mir is doing now as he’s standing right in front of Andrei. Combo leads to another clinch and that’s the round. Tricky round to score. Probably Mir’s round as the stand-up was largely even and he got a takedown, but you could go either way really.

Round Three and Arlovski tries a big right haymaker, but Mir blocks it and clinches up again. Crowd begin to boo as the action slows down and Big John calls another break. Takedown attempt from Mir as he ducks under an overhand right, but Arlovski defends it and we’re right back to the clinch. Not exactly a great fight to watch. Boos really start to rain down now as not much happens at all. Decent elbow connects in the clinch for Arlovski. They exchange some knees inside before another break is called. Right hand misses for Andrei and a left hand lands clean in the clinch for Mir. They break off and a right hook clips Arlovski around the back of the head and he goes down! Not sure whether he was off balance, but Mir immediately pounces and looks to capitalise with some ground strikes from half-guard. He tries to tie up the left arm, but Arlovski reverses and escapes to his feet. Mir grabs a front headlock and it looks like he wants a guillotine, but Arlovski frees his head and they end up in the clinch again. Crowd begin to boo once more as they jockey for position until Big John breaks them with a minute to go. Both guys look tired. Low kick lands for Arlovski. Nice combination ends in a straight left and backs Mir up. Another one lands too but Mir remains standing. Leg kick from Arlovski but Mir manages to clinch up, and the crowd hate that. Looks like Mir’s cut over his right eye. Seconds to go and they break, and Arlovski lands with a pair of right hands. Round ends there. Really tight round to score but I’d probably lean towards Arlovski by a hair giving him the fight 29-28. Could easily be 29-28 for Mir though or 29-28 for Andrei giving him the first and second rather than first and third.

Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Andrei Arlovski. Crowd seem pretty split on the call which is understandable given how close a fight it was. I know a lot of people – Dana White included – actually scored it for Mir which is fine but in all honestly regardless of the winner this wasn’t a good fight at all. In hindsight there was always the chance of a stinker given both men have had them in the past (Mir vs. Cro Cop, Arlovski vs. Schaub for example) but then the last two fights involving the two had been dynamite. And I’d say that we shouldn’t have expected much more given both men are past their best, but then they’re both in title contention too. So yeah, basically it was a slow-paced fight throughout with way too much clinching for it to be entertaining at all. Not the worst fight of all time but it was a disappointment given everyone wanted to see it since 2005.

UFC World Flyweight Title: Demetrious Johnson vs John Dodson

A rematch of their 2013 fight that saw Johnson come away with a relatively close decision win – after being dropped a couple of times – this was supposed to have taken place much earlier than this, namely some time after Dodson beat John Moraga in June 2014. The Magician had blown out his knee shortly after though, leaving Mighty Mouse to defend against a couple of lesser opponents in Chris Cariaso and Kyoji Horiguchi. While he still didn’t seem to be over with the live crowds or any sort of PPV draw, Johnson had looked fantastic in both of those fights – like the pound-for-pound great Joe Rogan talks him up as – and so while Dodson was his stiffest challenge in a while he was one I could see Mighty Mouse overcoming again.

Round One and Dodson charges out and takes the center of the cage before landing a low kick. He backs Johnson up a bit but some good movement allows Mighty Mouse to move away from the fence and he strangely drops to all fours for a second before standing back up. Good right hand lands for Johnson, set up by a double jab. Dodson comes back with a left to the body. Now it’s Johnson largely backing Dodson up. Right hand connects for Johnson. Head kick glances for Mighty Mouse but Dodson comes back with a right hand. Big right hook glances for Johnson. He’s really pressuring Dodson now. Clinch from Mighty Mouse but Dodson breaks with a series of uppercuts. Straight right answers for Johnson. Insanely quick single leg attempt from Mighty Mouse but Dodson manages to defend it well, and forces the champion into the fence. They break off quickly and Johnson presses forward and lands a pair of clean right hands coming forward. Really nice from Johnson. Another right sets up a takedown attempt, but Dodson defends it well again. One minute to go and Dodson lands with a body kick. Johnson has him clearly on his back foot though. Leg kick and a glancing high kick end the round for Johnson. Good opening round for the champion.

Round Two and they exchange kicks to open the round, but it’s Johnson who forces Dodson backwards again, really putting pressure on the challenger. Good kick from Johnson but Dodson catches it and tags him with a left before tripping him down. Scramble from the champ though and he’s back on his feet. Knee from Dodson is caught and now Johnson looks for a takedown of his own, but again Dodson manages to defend it despite taking a couple of hard strikes in the process. They trade some leg kicks and then Johnson forces him back with a combo, but he walks into a slick left hand counter and then gets thrown by a whizzer when he gets too close. Dodson forces him into the fence but they break quickly. Lead right hand connects for Johnson. More pressure from Johnson and he lands the straight right again, this time into the clinch. They jockey for position inside, and the crowd begin to boo the lack of activity. Knee breaks for Johnson and he follows with a hard right that backs Dodson up. Pair of high kicks are met by a counter left from Dodson, but Johnson sticks him with the right hand again and clinches. Dodson connects on some knees to the body from the clinch and shoves the champ down for a second, but he pops back up and forces Dodson back again. Front kick to the body from Mighty Mouse but Dodson comes back with a hard body kick of his own. Head kick misses for Johnson and he takes a glancing left as the round ends. Closer round but I’d still say the champion got the better of it, so I’d have him 20-18 up.

Round Three and Dodson attempts to take the center of the cage, but wow, Johnson’s movement is insane and he immediately starts pressuring the challenger again. Leg kick from Dodson and he defends a quick single leg attempt, but Johnson lands some right hands inside too. Dodson comes back with some of his own and then a really hard knee to the body. They break and Johnson comes back with a body kick of his own. Right hand lands for Johnson. His lead right looks fantastic in this fight, and he lands it again. Ridiculously fast shot from Mighty Mouse but somehow Dodson defends it again despite taking a short elbow inside. Hard elbow lands for Johnson as he holds onto the single leg, then switches to a double. Dodson somehow stuffs that again, but he desperately needs some offense of his own. SICK back elbow lands for Mighty Mouse and breaks the clinch. Lead right sets up a left for the champ and seems to have Dodson stunned, but he doesn’t go down. He tries to fire back but can’t catch Johnson. Pair of right hands from Johnson set up another clinch, where he lands a knee to the body. Crowd begin to boo again as the action slows down, and they break with 1:30 remaining. One-two from Johnson backs the challenger up. Single leg attempt is stuffed again by Dodson but he takes some short punches and a hard elbow. Looks like Dodson might be busted up. Takedown follows for the champ but Dodson works back to his feet right away. Mighty Mouse drags him down again though and quickly grabs a guillotine as Dodson tries to reverse. They pop back up but Johnson wades into the clinch again, and the round ends with a hard elbow and then a right hand, question mark kick and a missed flying knee for the champ. 10-9 Johnson again.

Round Four and Dodson looks tired and much slower than he did in the opening rounds. Uppercut lands for Johnson as does the straight right and a left hand behind it. Johnson’s striking looks phenomenal here. Good leg kick lands for Dodson however and he catches Mighty Mouse coming in with a body kick. Johnson walks through it though and goes for a takedown. Dodson shrugs it off and they exchange on the break. Right hand coming forward lands for Johnson again. His pressure game is awesome. Right hand lands again for him and because he’s not setting it up Dodson can’t seem to avoid it. Back to the clinch but they break quickly this time. Left hand only glances for Dodson as Johnson gets out of the way. Right hand and a solid knee land for Johnson but Dodson takes him down. Mad scramble immediately allows him back up though. The champ continues to walk Dodson down and lands the right hand again before clinching. You can hear smatterings of boos now but that’s not fair really. 1:30 to go and they break off, with Johnson walking Dodson down with two rights again. Dodson clinches to try to slow him down but Johnson cracks him with a left hook on the break and backs him up with some more punches. Takedown follows for the champ. Dodson looks to work back to his feet again but he takes a knee to the body. They break again and in the waning seconds Johnson nails him with the right straight again. This is a shutout.

Round Five and Johnson doesn’t even seem to be breathing heavily. He does some Jon Jones style crawling at one point and then connects the right hand again. Body kick lands for Dodson but he’s being backed up again. Right hand lands for the champ but Dodson stuffs a takedown that follows. Sick movement from Johnson allows him to avoid a barrage. Right hand lands again for Johnson. Clinch from the champ and he lands some knees as the cameraman seems to be stumbling and we go to shaky cam for a few seconds. Big slam from Mighty Mouse plants Dodson on the ground and he’s taking deep breaths. He does well to scoot back to the fence, and manages to reverse up, but Johnson breaks with a knee. Clean right hook lands for the champ. BIG right hand follows on the counter and Dodson’s stunned. He really backs up and eats another combo for good measure. Another right hand lands for Johnson. Quick duck-under leads to a single leg attempt from Johnson, but Dodson defends and they exchange from the clinch. Another attempt sees Johnson hit a BIG SLAM, but Dodson scrambles back up again. His takedown defense is really phenomenal. One minute to go and a straight right snaps Dodson’s head back and he’s bleeding all over the place. Combo from Dodson but he can’t land cleanly and Johnson clinches. Crowd again boo openly as they exchange from the clinch with knees, and the round ends as they break. I’d call it 50-45 for Demetrious Johnson, no other result possible really.

Sure enough the judges have it 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 for Demetrious Johnson to retain the title. Really it was one of the more one-sided title fights in recent memory as Dodson tried his best but was outclassed in his best area – striking – as Johnson just kept pressuring him back and never let him get comfortable, and his straight right was phenomenal as he landed it without any setup throughout the fight and stunned Dodson a few times. The issue of course isn’t with Johnson’s fighting technique – he’s probably the most dominant champion in a division that the UFC’s had since GSP in his heyday in terms of just owning every challenger he faces – but it’s with the fact that he remains a non-entity in terms of being a star to the fans and the reports were again that people were leaving the building before this fight was even over. And it wasn’t a bad or boring fight at all! I know he doesn’t especially sell fights well but I think a lot of the blame has to fall on the UFC – the last two Johnson-headlined cards weren’t exactly stacked (this one and UFC 186) and while the one before that *was* a great card (UFC 178) the undercard clearly overshadowed Johnson’s title defense. I think they need to stop using him in main events and put him in semi-mains underneath the bigger drawing cards and just keep praying his dominance makes him catch on at some point. Unfortunately I suspect his next fight will be against Henry Cejudo (which is a good thing) but it’ll be the main event of UFC 196 and we’ll get the same result. Still, the guy is a virtuoso and it’s a privilege to be able to watch him at the peak of his powers right now.

-Show ends with a sick video package for the ‘Go Big’ season (which we’re currently in the midst of). Not as good as the ‘Time Is Now’ video for me but still pretty awesome. We then hit the highlight reel and that’s that.

Final Thoughts….

After a bunch of pretty great PPVs starting with UFC 187 this one brought things back down with a bit of a bump, as nothing outside of Rumble’s brutal knockout was really memorable despite strong performances from Corey Anderson and Paige VanZant as well as a virtuoso showing from Demetrious Johnson as per usual for him. Really it was a bit of a weak card going in that was relying a lot on Arlovski/Mir delivering and unfortunately that fight really didn’t deliver. So it’s a thumbs down from me for UFC 191.

Best Fight: VanZant vs. Chambers
Worst Fight: Mir vs. Arlovski

Overall Rating: **

Until next time,

Scott Newman: