Demetrious Johnson proved once again why he is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport on Saturday night after he survived an early scare from Ultimate Fighter winner Tim Elliot to earn his ninth straight successful title defense and 11th win in a row overall.
Johnson had his hands full early as Elliott came out aggressively and nearly locked up a guillotine choke before transitioning to a D'arce choke that looked to have the champion in trouble. Elliott added on to his offensive onslaught with a punch later in the same round that clearly staggered Johnson for a moment before the champion was able to recover and regain his composure.
While Elliott definitely had a fast start, Johnson weathered the storm and showed his veteran experience over the next four rounds while dominating the fight in virtually every facet of the game. From a strong wrestling attack to nearly locking up several submissions, Johnson was in control throughout the remainder of the fight to earn a unanimous decision victory over Elliott.
Of course, going into the fight, Johnson was a massive favorite according to fantasy players.
A whopping 92 percent picked Johnson to win although there were certainly a few gasps for air when Elliott clamped on those submissions in the opening round. Still, Johnson came through with the win just like the majority of fantasy players believed he would.
The co-main event wasn't as lopsided, but Joseph Benavidez was still a heavy favorite, with 70 percent of players picking him to win, but he narrowly escaped with a decision over Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo, who gave him everything he could handle. Cejudo looked better on the feet than in any previous fight, but after a tough first round, Benavidez made the necessary adjustments to get the job done in the end.
Despite facing the No. 15-ranked welterweight, Jorge Masvidal enjoyed favorite status over Jake Ellenberger at The Ultimate Fighter Finale with 56 percent of players picking him to win. 66 percent said Masvidal would win by decision although no one could have predicted the bizarre way the fight would actually end after Ellenberger got his foot caught in the cage during the first round, ultimately resulting in a TKO stoppage.
Sara McMann also pulled off an impressive win over Alexis Davis when she finished the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a second round arm triangle choke. McMann was selected by 78 percent of players while going up against Davis, who was returning to action for the first time in well over a year after giving birth to her first child. McMann has now won two fights in a row while climbing back up the rankings at 135 pounds.
Brandon Moreno also picked up an impressive win in his second UFC fight as he took out Ryan Benoit, with 79 percent of fantasy players on his side going into the night. Moreno made a huge splash in his debut with a submission victory over Louis Smolka, but he definitely had his hands full with Benoit. Still, Moreno got the decision win although the majority of players – 55-percent to be exact - picked him to finish the fight by submission.
The only upset on the main card came from Jared Cannonier, who earned a decision victory over heavy-hitting light heavyweight Ion Cutelaba. Only 35 percent of fantasy players picked Cannonier to win, but he made quite an impression with a hard-hitting performance while also earning Fight of the Night honors.
The trend of favorites continued on the prelims as well, with Ryan Hall earning a unanimous decision over Gray Maynard, with 55 percent of players picking the former Ultimate Fighter winner to get the job done. Rob Font also earned his fourth UFC victory while taking out late notice replacement Matt Schnell, after 65 percent of fantasy players selected him going into the night.
There were a few upsets during the preliminary bouts, but none bigger than UFC newcomer Jamie Moyle getting a decision victory over Kailin Curran, with only 18 percent of players picking her going into the fight. 78 percent of those players who picked Moyle did say she would win by decision, which is exactly how the fight played out.
All told, eight favorites came away victorious at The Ultimate Fighter Finale, while only four underdogs surprised fantasy players.