On a night when the UFC lightweight title is on the line in the UFC 205 main event in New York City, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Michael Johnson were looking to further their respective cases for a title shot. This would normally be a main card bout on lesser PPVs, or even a main event on a Fight Night card, but this is UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, and it’s no ordinary PPV. Johnson came into this one following a 95-second KO of Dustin Poirier, while the undefeated Nurmagomedov had beaten short-notice opponent Darrell Horcher in April. There was a lot on the line for both men in this marquee matchup in The Big Apple.
Johnson was very active in the early going. He was throwing often and with bad intentions. A two-punch combo wobbled Khabib momentarily as Johnson’s blinding hand speed posed problems for the Dagestani fighter. Khabib was able to muscle his way into a takedown straight into side control. He advanced into a mounted crucifix and landed multiple sharp elbows. Johnson got out of the mounted crucifix but Khabib kept things in his favor in side control and teed off with big ground strikes. An incredible instance of turning the tables. Khabib gained full mount with 1 minute left in the opening round. Johnson was in serious trouble and eating left hands with Khabib draped over him. Michael saw out the round despite being in danger of the fight being stopped.
Khabib got in a nice uppercut in the 2nd round as Michael was missing wildly with left hands. Johnson stopped two takedowns but Khabib kept pressing forward and Johnson dropped down for a guillotine. It backfired badly and Khabib went to work from mounted crucifix. The ground-and-pound assault continued from various positions, with Johnson eating hard shot after hard shot for several uninterrupted minutes. Nurmagomedov unleashed another series of strikes but amazingly Johnson survived the round.
Khabib opened up round 3 with another set of nice uppercuts, and then he easily secured a takedown. John McCarthy had warned Rashad Evans (who was in Johnson’s corner) that he wasn’t going to let Johnson take too much more punishment. Hammerfists against the fence, Khabib in full mount and raining down more punishment. Johnson tried to flip Khabib over by pushing his feet up against the cage but Khabib stayed on top. Nurmagomedov went for a kimura and Johnson tapped, ending a seriously prolonged beating.
Official result: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Michael Johnson via submission (kimura) at 2:31 of round 3
Nurmagomedov then cut a promo by ripping into Conor McGregor and the Irish fans, which drew boos in the crowd.