One right hand, lots of damage.
Sacramento flyweight Joseph Benavidez absorbed a vicious right hand from Demetrious Johnson square in the face 2:08 into the first round of their Ultimate Fighting Championship title fight Saturday and was unconscious by the time he hit the canvas. Johnson retained his title in front of a hostile, near-sellout crowd of 11,537 at Sleep Train Arena in the main event of UFC on FOX 9.
For Benavidez, whose last loss came against Johnson in 2012 via a split decision to crown the inaugural UFC flyweight champion, the knockout was the first time he has been stopped in his 23-fight MMA career. Johnson improved to 19-2-1 and made an emphatic statement with that right hand, as well as dealing considerable damage to Benavidez’s title hopes.
“I’m so upset right now,” Benavidez said. “I thought tonight was going to be my night.”
Urijah Faber made the case that he should get another bantamweight title shot with an impressive showing against Modesto’s Michael McDonald in the co-main event. Faber landed several good shots in the first round and showed he was the superior wrestler.
Faber caught McDonald with a flurry of punches a minute into the second round and knocked him off balance. Once Faber saw the opening, he threw McDonald against the cage, landed a right as McDonald bounced back and sunk a wicked guillotine choke that took 10 seconds to take effect. McDonald tapped out 3:22 into the round.
“My plan was to ‘mousetrap’ him,” Faber said. “What I mean by that was to trap him, get him to fight out of position, then throw some high kicks, catch him with my hands and then submit him.”
Three of Faber’s last four fights have ended in submissions but have been set up by his strikes. Faber, who has never lost a non-title fight, now owns the UFC/World Extreme Cagefighting record for submissions with 11. The California Kid improved to 30-6, while McDonald (16-3) has lost two of his last three, including a title loss to interim champ Renan Barao last February.
McDonald is an up-and-comer in the bantamweight division and, in a classy move at the center of the Octagon, the 22-year-old held up Faber’s hand after taking a moment on the canvas to gather his breath.
Sacramento featherweight Chad Mendes had recorded four consecutive knockouts entering his match against Nik Lentz. The Floridian took several good shots early in the first round but wasn’t in much danger from there and secured a unanimous decision to move to 16-1 and make a case for a title bout rematch with Jose Aldo, who handed Mendes his only loss.
Mendes’ streak of never being taken down by an opponent remains. Lentz (26-6-2) was taken down six times by Mendes, and that’s where Mendes dominated despite battling a sinus infection the last two weeks.
Sacramento’s Danny Castillo rocked Edson Barboza with two overhand rights in the first round of their lightweight fight on the Fox Sports 1 preliminary card. But the Laguna Creek High School graduate couldn’t put away the Brazilian despite a dominating round that included a deep guillotine chokehold. Barboza, a former Muay Thai champion, returned to his roots in the second round and turned the fight with kicks to Castillo’s legs and a spinning kick that hit Castillo’s midsection so hard that fans in the upper deck could hear it.
Barboza kept Castillo at a distance in the third round and stunned him several times with more kicks. Barboza won a tough majority decision and improved to 13-1. Castillo’s two-fight win streak was halted, and his record fell to 16-6.
“Fighting in Sacramento was everything I thought it was going to be,” Castillo said. “It was a dream come true because I was born and raised here, and I love Sacramento. I just didn’t get the result I was hoping for. I hurt him in the first round, saw some blood and went for the kill. My choke slipped out, and it just didn’t work out from there. My game plan was to check those kicks he was throwing, and while they didn’t hurt during the fight, I’m sure I’ll feel them (this) morning.”
In the postfight news conference, UFC President Dana White said the judges should have scored Castillo’s first round 10-8 instead of 10-9 and the fight should have been a draw.
“That round was closer to a 10-7 than a 10-9, I can tell you that,” White said.
Joe Lauzon started the four-bout main card on Fox with a dominating performance and unanimous victory over former The Ultimate Fighter 6 champ Mac Danzig. Lauzon upped his record to 23-10, while Danzig fell to 22-12-1. Both fighters had lost three of their last four fights and were coming off two straight defeats.
Alptekin Ozkilic started the 11-bout card with a split-decision win over Darren Uyenoyama in a flyweight fight. Lightweight Abel Trujillo (11-5) scored a technical knockout over Roger Bowling (11-5) in the second round.
Lightweight Sam Stout (21-9-1) won a unanimous decision over Cody McKenzie. Bantamweight fighter Zach Makovsky won his UFC debut with a unanimous victory over Scott Jorgensen (14-8), and lightweight Bobby Green improved to 22-5 with a unanimous win over Pat Healy (31-17).
The last victory of the preliminary bouts on Fox Sports 1 went to welterweight Ryan LaFlare, who won a unanimous decision over Court McGee.
Mark Billingsley covers mixed martial arts for The Bee. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.