Appreciating the artistry that is Demetrious Johnson requires nothing more than a keen eye and a sense of beauty.
Like a painter, Johnson uses simple, concise strokes. He breaks down opponents with pace and speed; he applies flawless technique and non-stop pressure.
More from UFC 191: Full Results | Post-fight bonuses awarded | Fight Night blog | Watch: Dana White recaps UFC 191 | UFC 191 photo gallery | Order UFC 191 replay | DJ turns back Dodson again | Arlovski outlasts Mir | Rumble romps past Manuwa | Anderson’s ground assaults gets him win | VanZant dominant in victory | Pearson, Lineker, Pennington win in prelims | Silva wins, Diesel gets DQ victory
OK, so some MMA fans are unable to comprehend his skills. It takes time, and perhaps, as UFC president Dana White boldly stated Saturday night, a little less alcoholic consumption.
How else to explain the occasional boos from the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena during Johnson’s one-sided unanimous decision win over John Dodson at UFC 191?
“There’s a bunch of drunk dummies out there,” White said. “It was the last five rounds (of the main card), and these guys have been here since 5:30 drinking. I don’t know what they expect, but he looked unbelievable.”
Understandably, “Mighty Mouse” leads off today’s Talking Points.
1. Where does Johnson go now? Possibly to the front of the UFC’s pound-for-pound class, where UFC announcer Joe Rogan has frequently said he belongs. It would not be surprising to see Johnson move ahead of No. 1 Jose Aldo and No. 2 Chris Weidman this week, although that’s a decision for wiser minds.
As for opponents, should Johnson remain at flyweight, he has options.
His win over Dodson marked a seventh consecutive title defense, putting him behind only Anderson Silva (10), Georges St-Pierre (9) and Jon Jones (8). That’s a record he undoubtedly wants.
He has already beaten Dodson and Joseph Benavidez twice and Ian McCall once (plus a draw), so a title match against No. 3 Jussier Formiga could be next. Unbeaten Henry Cejudo is still several fights away from challenging.
“There’s always a contender,” White said. “We’re working on something right now, and when it happens, you’ll agree.”
2. The best thing about Paige VanZant is that she continues to improve as a fighter. Even better is that has no interest in rushing herself.
VanZant got the kind of victory she needed in scoring a third-round submission over Alex Chambers in their women’s strawweight bout. She even showed that she has a bit of Ronda Rousey in her, using a judo throw to take down Chambers in the first round and then transitioning from a rear naked choke to an armbar in the third.
VanZant was so in control that anything less than a finish probably wouldn’t have been satisfying – to her or her fans.
But it would be a mistake to compare her to Rousey, something that’s already being done. PVZ is far from a finished product and a long way from challenging current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the belt.
In time, perhaps. She definitely has the style, skills and willingness to brawl.
“Those are definitely big shoes to fill,” she said, speaking of unbeaten bantamweight champ Rousey, “and I have a long way to go before I can make that comparison. But I hope to follow in her footsteps.”
3. When it came to fight of the night, there was no arguing with White’s decision to award bonuses to John Lineker and Francisco Rivera.
Both fighters engaged in an ovation-worthy slugfest for 2 minutes and 8 seconds before Rivera finally surrendered.
Lineker, the No. 8-ranked flyweight, made his debut at bantamweight and proved he has lost none of his power, brawling with Rivera before winning via guillotine choke.
By the time Rivera tapped out, he had a massive welt under his left eye, and he and Lineker had combined to throw 100 total strikes.
At 5-foot-3, Lineker was at a six-inch height disadvantage, but he showed no reluctance to trade shots with Rivera, dropping his opponent with some big shots before Rivera got back up. But he wasn’t up for long.
4. Despite losing to Daniel Cormier in May, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson remained the No. 1 contender in the light heavyweight division.
He will undoubtedly remain there after an impressive knockout of Jimi Manuwa in the second round Saturday and may have made a convincing case to fight the winner of the upcoming Cormier-Alexander Gustaffson title fight at UFC 192.
Johnson even showed some capable wrestling skills, scoring two takedowns and using his ground-and-pound to break down Manuwa before delivering a big right hook that ended it.
It’s an interesting dynamic in the light heavyweight class. Cormier submitted Johnson, and Johnson knocked out Gustafsson, so Johnson could either get a second shot at Cormier or a title shot if Gustafsson scores an upset over Cormier.
5. Was Frank Mir robbed?
That seemed to be the prevailing opinion on press row and in the crowd after Andrei Arlovski won a unanimous decision over Mir in their long-awaited heavyweight bout.
One judge even had Arlovski winning all three rounds despite the fact Mir clearly took the second round after scoring a takedown and landing several hard shots. But without question, it was a close fight.
The two former heavyweight champions didn’t provide the fireworks most fans were hoping to see, but there were a couple of good exchanges. In the end, Mir looked gassed, even dropping his hands and waiting for Arlovski to initiate the action.
The lesson here: Never ever leave it up to the judges.
6. The final word belongs to Dana White, who was still answering questions about the UFC’s “Go Big” announcement on Friday.
Not surprisingly, the event was dominated by interim featherweight champ Conor McGregor, who riled up several fighters with his usual bold pronouncements. At one point, White leaned over and whispered in McGregor’s ear, causing McGregor to quiet down, but only momentarily.
So what did White tell the fighter?
“I told him that his zipper was down,” White deadpanned. “That’s it.”
Michael Martinez is a longtime sports journalist and former staff writer at The New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News and FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMMartinez