UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson Live Coverage
The Ultimate Fighting Championship runs its first event in Washington, DC Saturday night, headlined by a UFC Bantamweight Title fight between champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Demetrious Johnson. It is the first UFC title fight on free television since Quinton Jackson and Dan Henderson battled for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title in 2007. Cruz has a unique speed oriented striking attack while Johnson is another exceedingly quick athlete with a wrestling background.
Walel Watson vs. Joseph Sandoval
Sandoval is an undefeated prospect making his UFC debut. Watson is also making his UFC debut and has an 8-2 record.
Round 1. Watson lands a beautiful right head kick that drops Sandoval. He pursues Sandoval around the cage with punches and kicks as Sandoval tries to get out of danger. Eventually Sandoval goes down again to a series of punches and the referee calls an end to the fight.
Winner: Walel Watson, TKO, round 1.
Josh Neer vs. Keith Wisniewski
Neer and Wisniewski are well traveled veterans of the sport. Neer sports a 4-6 record in the UFC and 31-10-1 overall MMA record. Wisniewski fought once for the UFC, lost, and proceeded to lose an additional four consecutive fights. His career at a high level appeared to be over, but he rallied to win his next six fights and earn another chance in the UFC.
Round 1. They trade punches at the start of the fight, with Wisniewski grabbing a clinch and throwing a few knees to Neer's body. Neer throws a series of punches to the body while Neer mostly targets the head with his punches. Neer pushes the action a little more as the fight progresses, although Wisniewski is able to counter effectively as well. Neer leads with his jabs and then throws big overhands that are mostly missing. Neer throws a pair of elbows from distance, an unusual tactic that finished a fight in Strikeforce last month. Neer connects with one of his big overhands and Wisniewski is bleeding. Neer continues to throw elbows from the standing position. Good round. 10-9 Neer.
Round 2. Neer throws a few jabs and snaps Wisniewski's head back with a straight right. Wisniewski clinches and Neer throws a few elbows while blocking any attempt at a takedown. Wisniewski continues to pursue a takedown unsuccessfully while Neer continues to use elbows. Wisniewski lands some heavy punches to the body and a big hook. However, Neer is bloodying his face badly with punches and elbows from close distance. Neer keeps throwing up short range elbows and mixes in some uppercuts. Wisniewski is bleeding very badly from the face. Neer loses his mouthpiece and they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find it as it apparently slipped through the cracks at the corner of the Octagon. After action is started, Neer goes back to work with elbows from the clinch. Neer is taking Wisniewski apart with elbows against the cage and punches when they separate. Neer grabs a standing guillotine choke but can't get the submission as the round concludes. 10-8 Neer. The doctor stops the fight between rounds. Wisniewski's face was a complete mess.
Winner: Josh Neer, TKO, round 2.
In an amusing scene in the postfight interview, Joe Rogan asks Neer about saying between rounds that he suffered a broken rib. Neer denies saying this and Rogan says they have tape of it. Neer devotes the fight to his grandfather who is suffering from cancer.
Shane Roller vs. T.J. Grant
Roller is an exciting fighter to watch with solid wrestling and aggressive striking and submissions. Grant sports a 3-3 UFC record with some tough decision losses to high quality opposition.
Round 1. They start off tentatively. Roller lands a nice punch combination and Grant looks for a takedown. A wild scramble ensues with Grant ending up on top in side control. Roller scrambles out from under, takes top position, and looks to grab a guillotine from top position. He simultaneously tries to get out from Grant's half guard and retain top position. Grant works his way out and ends up on top in Roller's guard. Grant postures up and throws punches down from a high position, although it gives Roller the chance to answer with upkicks. Grant works into side control and throws some shoulder strikes and elbows. Grant is able to lock up one of Roller's arms and throw punches for the remainder of the round. Fun, competitive ground battle. 10-9 Grant.
Round 2. Grant lands a nice head kick that is partially deflected by Roller. Grant moves in with punches and lands a series of knees to the head that appear to stun Roller. Roller looks to take Grant down up against the fence. Roller gives it up and lands a nice uppercut. He goes back to it and connects with another two. Roller grabs a guillotine and looks to submit Grant as Grant slams him down. However, Grant gets out of the guillotine and passes guard. Grant looks to secure full mount but is unable to. Roller looks to work his way into top position and he manages to pull it off. Roller again looks for a guillotine choke from the top but Grant somehow manages to take his back and look for a rear naked choke. Grant then looks to extend an armbar as the round concludes. Very close round. 10-9 Grant.
Round 3. Grant lands the best punch of the round thus far about a minute in with a bit of a looping right hand. Roller pushes for a takedown. Roller gets it but Grant grabs a guillotine choke. Roller pops out his head and Grant immediately transitions to an armbar. Grant is able to extend it pretty well and the referee stops the fight. Roller protests the stoppage. The decision is announced as a verbal tapout, due to Roller screaming out, which is considered a submission. Roller claims he didn't cry out but was simply grunting trying to get out.
Winner: T.J. Grant, technical submission, round 3.
Mike Easton vs. Byron Bloodworth
This is a fight with particular local interest, as Easton is a DC native and considered a fighter on the rise. Easton gets a superstar reaction from the live crowd. Bloodworth is a UFC newcomer who failed to make weight for the fight yesterday. Easton has a huge cheering section with 1,000 Lloyd Irvin students buying tickets and showing up in matching black and green shirts. It's as large of a cheering section as you'll ever see at a UFC event. They immediately start chanting "Easton" loudly.
Round 1. Bloodworth throws a flying knee at the onset of the fight. Easton moves around a lot but doesn't throw much. Easton moves in with some hooks from close distance and then backs off. Bloodworth throws a kick to the body and then a kick to the leg. Bloodworth shoots for a takedown and moves Easton all the way across the Octagon looking to get it. Easton defends and pushes Bloodworth against the cage. The referee separates them. Easton lands a nice leg kick. He keeps pushing forward but he is throwing very little. Bloodworth looks for a takedown but doesn't come close. Close, bad round. 10-9 Bloodworth.
Round 2. Both men start off much more active, throwing punches and kicks in the center of the Octagon. Easton pushes Bloodworth back towards the cage and begins to circle him around the cage like in the first round. Easton throws a few snapping leg kicks to the thigh and chases Bloodworth down. Bloodworth looks for a takedown that is easily defended. Easton lands a nice hook to the jaw. Easton's confidence seems to be rising as he lands more leg kicks. Bloodworth lands a nice counterpunch as Easton walks in. Easton keeps throwing leg kicks while Bloodworth is mostly using jabs and straight punches. Easton loves mean mugging. Easton clinches against the cage and looks for a takedown but Bloodworth quickly reverses and presses Easton up against the cage. Easton lands some hard knees from the clinch, Bloodworth goes down, and Easton finishes the fight with punches. Easton was landing knees to the head. Bloodworth concentrated on those, at which point Easton went to the body with heavy knees and that's what ended Bloodworth's evening.
Winner: Mike Easton, TKO, round 2.
Michael Johnson vs. Paul Sass
Johnson was the runner up on the 12th season of the Ultimate Fighter. He has a wrestling background and natural strength, although he can fade as fights progress. Sass is an undefeated British fighter with eight wins in eleven fights via triangle choke.
Round 1. Sass doesn't mess around with the standup and immediately wildly shoots for a takedown. Johnson avoids the takedown and throws out a few jabs and straights to keep Sass at bay. He catches Sass with a big knee to the head as Sass is coming in. Sass tries to move in again and is caught with an uppercut. Sass tries to pull guard and go for straight takedowns. He just wants the fight on the ground. Sass is finally able to pull guard but Johnson looks to stand up. Sass grabs his ankle to keep him from getting up. Sass looks for a heel hook and finally gets the submission. Sass isn't well rounded, but he's got a dangerous ground game. Johnson limps to the back and his leg may be in bad shape.
Winner: Paul Sass, submission, round 1.
Yves Edwards vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Edwards is one of the most experienced fighters in the UFC, having fought for almost a decade and a half professionally. He is well versed in all aspects of the game but relies first and foremost on his striking. He was once considered the top 155 pound fighter in the UFC. Oliveira is a BJJ black belt with a 1-3 UFC record.
Round 1. Oliveira charges forward with wild punches and looks to get a takedown. Edwards defends up against the cage and they trade knees from the clinch. They separate and Oliveira again lunges forward with punches trying to close the distance. Edwards is bleeding a little from the corner of his right eye. Edwards throws a head kick that glances over the top of Oliveira's head. Edwards moves forward with a few straight punches of his own but then backs off. Edwards lands a nice leg kick and Oliveira answers with a head kick. Oliveira isn't very technical with his striking, but he is throwing a lot more. He keeps going for the same combinations which Edwards mostly blocks but a few strikes get through and Edwards isn't doing a lot in his own right. Oliveira shoots for a takedown in the final seconds of the round but Edwards sprawls well and lands a few punches at the close of the round. Close round. 10-9 Oliveira.
Round 2. Oliveira lands one of his favorite combinations at the start of the round, a punch to the body and then punch to the head. Oliveira comes in swinging wildly with hooks but gets dropped by an Edwards knee. Oliveira gets back up and returns to the striking. Edwards drops Oliveira moments later with a right hook and then swarms on Oliveira with big punches. It looks like it could be stopped but Oliveira is able to survive and get back up. Edwards keeps landing big blows and drops him with a left head kick. Edwards continues punching Oliveira in the head but the fight is allowed to continue. Edwards then mounts Oliveira's back and throws a couple more punches before the referee finally calls an end to the fight.
Winner: Yves Edwards, TKO, round 2.
Matt Wiman vs. Mac Danzig
This is a rematch of a controversial bout from last year. Wiman had Danzig in a guillotine choke. The referee thought that Danzig went out and stopped the fight, but Danzig wasn't out at all and rightfully protested immediately. Wiman has won three of four fights in the UFC and looked good in the loss as well. Danzig is a former winner of the Ultimate Fighter but has struggled in recent years.
Round 1. Wiman connects pretty well with a hook and they clinch. Danzig lands a head kick but Wiman uses the opportunity to take the fight to the ground. Danzig uses the cage to get right back up without taking any damage. Wiman hangs onto a leg and looks for a takedown but Danzig lands some solid punches and looks for a guillotine. Wiman gets out but Danzig goes back to work with punches. They clinch and Danzig lands a nice knee and uppercut. Wiman connects with a few looping punches of his own. Wiman throws a series of elbows from close distance standing. It seems like a lot of people are experimenting with standing elbows of late. Wiman lunges in with a nice kick to the body and punch to the face. Danzig is bleeding from the nose. Danzig connects with a series of punches to the body and head. Wiman looks for a takedown that is stuffed at the end of the round. The crowd gives a nice round of applause for both men after an exciting round. Close, but 10-9 Danzig.
Round 2. Wiman starts with a few leg kicks. They clinch and Wiman lands a nice knee and short elbow. Wiman connects with a body punch and again clinches. It's clear Wiman prefers to fight from close range, which is interesting given he is a little bit bigger man. As Wiman is moving in with strikes, Danzig catches him off balance and takes him down. Danzig drops down a few punches as Wiman moves up his hips and looks for an armbar. Wiman can't quite get it and Danzig after getting out of danger immediately opens up with punches from the top. Wiman transitions into looking for a kimura. Danzig is able to avoid that and throws down more punches. Finally, Wiman gets up with 80 seconds left in the round. Danzig throws a series of punches against the cage. Wiman backs him up with punches of his own and hits Danzig with a solid knee to the body. Another very difficult round to score. 10-9 Danzig.
Round 3. Wiman pushes forward early and lands a nice kick to the body. Danzig looks to counter the more aggressive Wiman. They again clinch and exchange punches from very tight range. Danzig looks for a judo throw but Wiman defends it without too much difficulty. Wiman gets the best of an exchange next to the cage with a right hook connecting particularly well. Danzig then takes Wiman down. Danzig throws a bunch of punches as Wiman is trying to stand up and then climbs on Wiman's back with one hook in. Wiman brushes him off and takes top position. Wiman drops down elbows up against the cage. Danzig stands back up. They go back to trading punches and knees up against the cage and Wiman drops down to look for a takedown. Danzig grabs a guillotine at the close of the round but Wiman holds up his thumb to indicate he's fine and the round concludes. Excellent, hard fought contest. 10-9 Wiman, 29-28 Danzig. But all three rounds were close and a decision either way is perfectly justifiable.
Winner: Matt Wiman, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
The crowd doesn't like the decision, but there's nothing wrong with it. All three judges gave the first and third rounds to Wiman.
Anthony Johnson vs. Charlie Brenneman
Johnson is a massive welterweight with strong wrestling and knockout power. Brenneman is an excellent wrestler in his own right with very good cardio and is coming off the biggest win of his career over Rick Story.
Round 1. Johnson lands a couple front kicks early and stuffs Brenneman's first takedown attempt. Johnson physically looks much bigger than Brenneman. He throws some punches to the head of Brenneman as he sprawls. He holds down Brenneman's head and throws a series of knees to the body. Brenneman eventually rolls over with Johnson taking top position. Brenneman grabs Johnson's head but isn't close to getting a guilotine. As Brenneman gets up he eats a head kick. Brenneman seems in trouble, Johnson connects with another head kick, and the referee stops the bout. Brenneman immediately protests the stoppage but Johnson had connected with a lot of power and Brenneman went down hard.
Winner: Anthony Johnson, TKO, round 1.
Stefan Struve vs. Pat Barry
This is a very unique bout, as Barry is one of the heavyweight division's shortest fighters and Struve is one of the division's tallest fighters. Barry is a kickboxer with a subpar ground game and Struve has solid submissions but Struve's chin is questionable and he may not want to close the distance to go for a takedown.
Round 1. Barry moves forward, trying to feel out the distance. Struve throws a few punches and kicks to slow his approach, but not many. Barry throws a few low kicks and starts targeting punches for the head of the much taller fighter. Struve appears to look for a clinch but Barry pushes him off quickly. Struve throws a few front kicks. Barry throws a punch to the body and kick to the body. Struve counters with a hard knee to the body. Barry continues to throw the occasional kick to the leg. Struve lands a nice head kick towards the end of the round. 10-9 Struve.
Round 2. They trade leg kicks to start and Struve throws a head kick that is blocked. Struve throws a couple more head kicks. Barry answers with a pair of hard leg kicks and Struve throws one of his own. The inside and outside of Struve's left leg are very red. Struve clinches and looks to throw a knee but Barry backs out. As Struve is coming in, Barry catches him with a nice hook to the jaw. Struve looks for a standing guillotine choke and then goes for it on the ground but Barry works his way out of trouble. Struve then looks for a triangle choke. Barry lifts him way up in the air and slams him back down but Struve keeps the hold locked in and get the tap with a combination triangle choke/armbar.
Winner: Stefan Struve, submission, round 2.
UFC Bantamweight Title: Dominick Cruz vs. Demetrious Johnson
Cruz's style is a riddle no fighter has been able to solve since he fully developed as a fighter. Johnson's wrestling will likely be the difference if he wins, and Johnson has solid submissions and an excellent camp as well.
Round 1. Cruz lands a punch and kick early while Johnson tries to find the proper range. Johnson charges in with punches a few times but doesn't connect with much. Johnson shoots for a takedown but Cruz defends and they scramble for position. Cruz takes the top position and works his way into side control. Cruz lands a few punches from the top but mostly concentrateson keeping Johnson down. Johnson works his way out of side control and then stands back up. Johnson pushes forward with punches and kicks but Cruz catches a head kick and uses it to take Johnson back down. Johnson stands back up and throws a few punches from close distance. He takes Cruz down but Cruz gets right back up. They exchange with Johnson landing a few nice blows and Cruz catching Johnson with an uppercut as Johnson comes back in. Very close round, very quick pace. 10-9 Cruz.
Round 2. Cruz lands one punch but Johnson immediately answers with two of his own and a head kick. Cruz responds by taking Johnson down. Johnson stands back up, eating a few knees in the process. Johnson then moves to take Cruz down. Cruz successfully defends and throws a few knees to the body as a deterrent. Cruz tries to take Johnson down but Johnson stops that. Johnson then looks for the takedown but Cruz hits him with a knee to the head and Johnson backs away. Johnson lands a few leg kicks and tries a flying knee that misses. Johnson's speed is giving Cruz problems. Johnson goes for a takedown and Cruz briefly goes down but he's right back up. Cruz then takes Johnson down with less than 30 seconds left in the round. Another very close round. 10-9 Cruz.
Round 3. Johnson aggressively dives in with punches and kicks but Cruz is able to avoid basically everything. Cruz looks for a takedown but Johnson blocks it. Cruz then grabs Johnson's back and executes a beautiful German suplex. Cruz takes Johnson's back and looks to sink in a rear naked choke. Johnson rolls out of trouble. Cruz then tries again and Johnson again rolls out and steps out of danger. He has Cruz against the cage and lands a few punches. Cruz goes for another takedown and gets it. Cruz throws a few punches down but Johnson works his way back up as the round comes to a close. Unlike the other two rounds, that round was not close and clearly belonged to Cruz. 10-9 Cruz.
Round 4. Johnson throws a few leg kicks to start. He looks a little fresher than Cruz. They exchange punch attempts, but most punches from both men are hitting air. Cruz closes the distance and takes Johnson back down. Cruz this time works his way into full mount. Johnson just resorts to hanging on but then works his way back into butterfly guard. Johnson uses butterfly guard to push Cruz off and stands back up. Johnson again presses forward with punches but isn't able to connect with any consistency. Cruz catches Johnson with an uppercut and takes him back down with 30 seconds left in the round. Johnson gets up but eats a few knees charging in throwing wild punches at Cruz. Another clear round for Cruz. 10-9 Cruz, 40-36 Cruz. Johnson is very likely going to need to finish in the fifth round to win this fight.
Round 5. Johnson again charges in with punches and a head kick attempt but can't connect on anything. Johnson's connect rate in this fight has been exceedingly low. Cruz executes another belly to back throw and takes top position. Cruz drops down some punches and elbows from inside Johnson's guard. Johnson eventually works his way back to his feet halfway through the round. Cruz looks for a throw to get Johnson back down but isn't able to execute it. As Johnson is moving forward with punches again, Cruz changes levels and takes him down. Cruz then quickly works into mount position. Johnson charges forward but eats a big knee that backs him up as the round closes. At some point during the round Johnson developed a bad hematoma on his left cheek. Another clear round for Cruz. 10-9 Cruz, 50-45 Cruz.
Winner: Dominick Cruz, unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 50-45).