One of the most stacked non Pay-Per-View cards in UFC history was headlined by Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight title defense and a pair of title implication bouts. The prelims delivered entertaining fights throughout the night and set the stage for the stars – and they delivered as well.
Demetrious Johnson dominated in his record-tying 10th title defense, while Rose Namajunas and Robert Whittaker each earned electric finishes to add to their title contender resume. Namajunas appears to have a clearer path to the belt than Whittaker. But the night truly belonged to Johnson, who tied Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive title defenses. Determining the world’s current pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter is no longer a question: Johnson has more than earned that title. Now the conversation turns to where he fits as an all-time great.
These are the Fight Night Kansas City Talking Points.
Johnson didn’t need to defeat Reis to put his name in the conversation of all-time greats; his nine consecutive title defenses before Fight Night Kansas City should have been enough. But Johnson put an exclamation point on No. 10, eliminating the debate.
He picked Reis apart in all three rounds, was never in trouble and barely appeared to break a sweat. Earlier in the week Johnson said to be considered an all-time great, you have to be great at every aspect of fighting. He backed up his words in his performance against Reis.
Johnson landed shots on the feet, stuffed takedowns and put a bow on his performance in Round 3 when he took Reis down and dominated the jiu-jitsu specialist before locking in an arm bar.
Silva, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre … it’s hard to say where Johnson currently stands as an all-time great. Eventually becoming No. 1 is possible. He’ll keep attempting to add to his record, and as of now there doesn’t appear to be anyone in the flyweight division who can stand in his way.
“I’m the best champion to ever step foot in this Octagon,” Johnson said.
Back in the mix
Rose Namajunas saw her run at a title put on pause when she lost to Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 201. Namajunas’ finish of Waterson puts her right back in the conversation.
Champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s last two opponents (Kowalkiewicz and Claudia Gadelha) face each other at UFC 212 and the winner will have a deserving argument at the next shot. So Namajunas didn’t just need a win to potentially pass one of those two. She needed a dominant performance.
And that’s exactly what she did. Namajunas demonstrated knock down power, landing a head kick that sent Waterson down, and then went to the best part of her game, taking Waterson’s back before locking in a rear naked choke.
Perhaps the best part of her victory came after the fight as Namajunas – who in the past has not went out of her to way to make call-outs – had a message for the champ.
“Joanna or whoever is going to win that fight, I’m coming, so be careful,” Namajunas said in the Octagon, looking ahead to Jedrzejczyk’s next matchup with Jessica Andrade at UFC 211.
Whittaker completes the unthinkable
It had been nearly nine years since Jacare Souza had been KO’d. That streak ended at the hands – and feet – of Robert Whittaker. Whittaker was patient in Round 1 and even escaped Souza when the Brazilian took his back. Then came the monstrous blow that we’ve seen vault Whittaker up the 185-pound ranks.
After knocking Souza down early in Round 2, Whittaker continued to pick him apart and sent him down again with a head-kick before earning the TKO.
It’s Whittaker’s seventh consecutive win and it could vault him into the division’s Top 3. But he will hve to get in line for the belt. With champion Michael Bisping slated to fight Georges St-Pierre, and Yoel Romero at the top of the wait-list, Whittaker likely will likely need to add an eighth consecutive win before a title shot is in reach.
But what fellow 185-pound contender would want to step in front of that right hand?
Bantamweight fighter Tom Duquesnoy had long been considered one of the top prospects not in the UFC. He finally made his debut on Saturday and lived up to all the hype with a second-round KO of Patrick Williams.
Duquesnoy got cut in Round 1 but allowed Williams to wear himself down before nearly knocking him out with a vicious elbow as the bell rung. He went right back to the elbow and knocked Williams out with the same shot 30 seconds into Round 2.
The “Fire Kid” didn’t call anyone out after the fight but it’s possible he could crack the 135-pound rankings if his second UFC fight is as impressive as his first.