Saturday, September 22 – 10:00 p.m. ET Air Canada Centre – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Joseph Benavidez (16-2) vs. Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1)
Flyweight bout Line: Benavidez -275, Johnson +215
In Saturday’s flyweight tournament final, Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson will come to blows to determine UFC’s inaugural champion in this division.
Unlike a lot of other fights on this card, UFC fans can bet on getting their money’s worth in this one with the bout likely to take all 25 minutes. Benavidez, the winner of four consecutive fights, has won two of these via decision, one by TKO and one by submission. Prior to that he lost to Dominick Cruz in a split decision for the WEC bantamweight championship. Johnson has a draw and a win in his past two fights, both against Ian McCall. Prior to that, he also lost to Cruz for the UFC bantamweight title. Johnson’s past five fights have all gone to the judges. Ultimately, these fighters appear to be nearly evenly matched as conditioning-based flyweights who have moved to this division after being unable to beat Cruz. Although Benavidez appears to be in slightly better shape, he is not nearly as sure of a thing to win as the lines suggest. Take the better than 2-to-1 money and expect JOHNSON to win the belt.
The MMA Odds Breaker crew gives their fight predictions based on the opening lines for this bout:
At 5-foot-4, Benavidez owns a slight one-inch height advantage over Johnson. The 28-year-old San Antonio native is also two years older younger than Johnson. Benavidez’s two unanimous decision wins in his past four fights have been his most impressive ones because of the caliber of opponents he has conquered. In the first of them he outlasted Ian Loveland and in the second he outdueled Eddie Wineland. Benavidez has elite conditioning and that will be key for him as he attempts to avoid Johnson’s regular takedown attempts. But if he fails just once, that could mean the end of the fight for this southpaw. Both of Benavidez’s career losses have been to Dominick Cruz, as he is 16-0 versus everybody else.
Although “Mighty Mouse” Johnson earned a draw in his first fight with McCall, that was the toughest opponent either he or Benavidez has seen besides Cruz. Johnson displayed growth and maturity in the second of those bouts against McCall, notching a unanimous decision with a gaudy 90-57 edge in striking while only being taken down once, a big improvement from being taken down four times in the draw. His speed and conditioning rivals that of Benavidez, but with a slightly smaller frame, he is more interested in takedowns than his opponent. It will be tough to execute against such a good defender, but if he can land a couple, he could be the judges’ favorite.