Johnson Keeps Title, Elliott Wins Hearts
Tim Elliott was released from the UFC in 2015 following three straight losses. He managed to bounce back by becoming Titan FC’s first-ever flyweight champion. After two title defenses, he got the chance to compete on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, and he went on to win the tournament and a shot at the only flyweight champion UFC ever had — Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.
Elliott was unsuccessful in gaining the title, as he lost via unanimous decision. But his performance against Johnson seemed to win him over many more fans and raise his stock.
The first round was notable in that it was well-agreed upon by the MMA community as a round that Johnson actually lost. While Johnson managed to get a takedown in on Elliott, Elliott used several transitions to get on top and nearly get a guillotine choke. Then, he transformed it into a d’arce, and the choke looked tight. At that moment, many thought we would see a tap and the shocking upset. Johnson did get out, however, and the two were soon in a scramble on the mat again. In the last minute, Elliott appeared to land a shot that rocked Johnson, and he scored a takedown to win the round.
Johnson managed to get the fight back to the ground in round two, and tried to get a couple of chokes in on his challenger. Every time, however, Elliott managed to break free and scramble. Johnson, however, was on top or in side control for most of the second round. Elliott, at the very least, ended up on top by the end of the second. By the start of the third round, it was more than clear that Elliott was gassed. Round three saw both fighters vying for position and continue to scramble. Elliott managed to escape a choke attempt by Johnson, and Johnson got out of a triangle by Elliott.
Elliott was in a lot of danger in the fourth, as he gave up his back, and the champion went in for a choke. Elliott escaped that, and narrowly got out of a kimura attempt from Johnson. A little bit into round five and Johnson got back into side control. He had a couple of opportunities to lock in an armbar or kimura, but Elliott was able to defend.
It was clear — Elliott had the heart, he made the champion work and he earned many fans. But Johnson is still the flyweight champion, earning his 11th straight win and ninth straight title defense. One more title defense and he ties Anderson Silva’s UFC record of most consecutive defenses.
Also on the main card, Joseph Benavidez won the seasonal battle between The Ultimate Fighter coaches, defeating Henry Cejudo via split decision. Probably the most controversial moment of the night, however, happened during the Jorge Masvidal vs. Jake Ellenberger bout. During the later portion of the first round, Ellenberger’s foot got caught between the mat and cage. Referee Herb Dean called the bout to a halt. After discussion between Dean and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner, however, it was ruled that since there’s nothing in the rule book about a situation like this and Dean stopped the bout, a TKO must be awarded to Masvidal.
But the main question for UFC after tonight — what’s next for Mighty Mouse?
The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale Main Card (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)
UFC flyweight championship: (c) Demetrious Johnson def. Tim Elliott via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-45)
Joseph Benavidez def. Henry Cejudo via split decision (27-29, 30-26, 29-27)
Jorge Masvidal def. Jake Ellenberger via TKO (R1, 4:05)
Jared Cannonier def. Ion Cutelaba via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Sara McMann def. Alexis Davis via submission (arm triangle) (R2, 2:52)
Brandon Moreno def. Ryan Benoit via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale Preliminary Card (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)
Ryan Hall def. Gray Maynard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Rob Font def. Matt Schnell via TKO (R1, 3:47)
Dong Hyun Kim def. Brendan O’Reilly via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Jamie Moyle def. Kailin Curran via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. ET)
Anthony Smith def. Elvis Mutapcic via TKO (R2, 3:27)
Devin Clark def. Josh Stansbury via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)