UFC on Fox 9: Who has grown most?

UFConFox9_insetI can’t wait to see Joseph Benavidez rematch Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in the main event at UFC on Fox 9. When the two fought last, Mighty Mouse took the decision, but Benavidez fought a good fight and was a dangerous opponent, something we don’t always see with Mighty Mouse. At least not twice.

Just ask Ian McCall. The first time they fought, it was razor-thin close. The second time? Not so much. In the time between, McCall had trained well for the fighter he fought the first time. But Johnson had advanced his training and when they met again, Johnson was in a much better position to win the fight. And win. he did.

So even though Johnson downplays his between-match training and development in the media, expect a fighter who has worked hard on specific techniques to take advantage of what he’s seen from Benavidez, both in their last fight and in the fights between, as Benavidez fought his way back into this title bout. If nothing else, expect it to be much more difficult for Benavidez to take Johnson down.

Not that Joseph Benavidez will be looking for the takedown first. Already a powerful striker, Benavidez has had the time between fights with Johnson to learn from Duane “Bang” Ludwig, almost certain to be recognized as “Coach of the Year” for his work with Team Alpha Male. Benavidez has become much more technical in his stand-up, and you will certainly see it paying off against Johnson, as Benavidez seeks to use his improved footwork to minimize Johnson’s speed advantage.

If he can get ahold of Johnson, who’s been working on this takedown defense, and actually take him down, Benavidez’ wrestling will give him a big advantage, and allow him to deliver some devastating ground and pound. But as Johnson’s shown in the past, that’s a big “if”.

All in all, the Main Event for UFC on Fox 9 may just come down to which fighter’s grown the most since their last match. Either way, it promises to be a barn-burner—exactly what a title fight should be!