Demetrious Johnson hadn't headlined a PPV in his UFC career until tonight. The flyweight champion took on Ali Bagautinov at UFC 174 in Vancouver in search of a 4th successive title defense, while Bagautinov aimed to be the 2nd challenger to dethrone a UFC champion in as many months.
The first round featured a lot of feints, stance switching, and shifty movements but not much in the way of powerful strikes. Bagautinov definitely threw with intentions of a KO, but Johnson artfully dodged them all. The 2nd half of the round was spent mostly in the clinch, where Bagautinov and Johnson traded knees. Mighty Mouse used the Muay Thai plum to land his knees with great success before Bagautinov scored a takedown, only for Johnson to spring up immediately.
Johnson really started working the low kicks in the 2nd round and continued to land some flush knees on Bagautinov's face. Ali managed some decent offense from the clinch but his pursuit of the takedown was met with knees and elbows. The speed and movement of Mighty Mouse already seemingly frustrating the challenger, who was struggling to land at distance.
Mighty Mouse continued his onslaught of knees in the clinch and leg kicks as Bagautinov was swinging at air and unable to land anything clean. He did suplex Johnson but once again the champion rose to his feet, separated the hands, and turned it into a series of knees and short elbows.
Bagautinov entered the championship rounds for the first time in his career, no closer to solving the champion. The highlight of his offensive performance was cracking Johnson with a right hand off of a Mighty Mouse slip, but that glimmer of hope for a KO wasn't enough to win him the round, let alone the fight. Johnson once again outstruck Bagautinov and frustrated him with his footwork and speed.
The 5th round was a mere formality. Johnson continued his success against Bagautinov and Bagautinov kept absorbing punishment. It was another superb performance from Demetrious Johnson, who landed a remarkable 90% of his strikes in the clinch.
Official Result: Demetrious Johnson def. Ali Bagautinov via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Johnson (20-2-1) just totally outclassed a game, tough, but ultimately over-matched Bagautinov (13-2), who experiences defeat in the UFC for the first time.
Stay tuned for immediate post-event coverage from Bloody Elbow throughout the night, including post-fight bonus handouts, highlights, and more.