UFC 130: Under the Radar

Demetrious Johnson at UFC 126

Demetrious Johnson

One fight you should be paying closer attention to at UFC 130

With all the outstanding performances at UFC 129, I managed to select the one fight on the preliminary portion of the card that sucked the life out of the building for the debut edition of Under the Radar.

On paper, it looked like a tremendous battle between two quality jiu-jitsu stylists. Inside the cage, not so much.

Not to take anything away from Claude Patrick or his victory, but Daniel Roberts apparently has a severe allergy to endurance. When one of the participants isn’t able to make it out of the first round without gasping for air, you’re going to be hard-pressed to have an exciting fight.

Now that I’m done rationalizing my pick and making excuses, the time has come to try again. UFC 130 presents a number of interesting options, but there is one match-up that stands out as the bout you’re going to want to make sure you catch.

Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson

Miguel Torres (39-3, 1-0 UFC)
UFC 126 Win Antonio Bauelos (Unanimous Decision)
WEC 51 Win Charlie Valencia (Submission – RNC – Round 2)
WEC 47 Loss Joseph Benavidez (Submission – Guillotine – Round 2)

Demetrious Johnson (9-1, 1-0 UFC)
UFC 126 Win “Kid” Yamamoto (Unanimous Decision)
WEC 52 Win Damacio Page (Submission – Guillotine – Round 2)
WEC 51 Win Nick Pace (Unanimous Decision)

Why We Love this Fight

There are so many interesting contrasts at play in this fight that it’s impossible not to be intrigued.

For starters, I’m curious just seeing them standing opposite each other in the cage, as the 5’9″ Torres will tower over Johnson, who stands 5’3″ on his best days and when he’s thinking tall thoughts.

That size discrepancy makes seeing which of the two competitors will be able to control the space and distance in the cage all the more interesting. Torres picked apart Banuelos with his long jab at UFC 126, but Johnson is a lot quicker and far more explosive, which should help him close the gap more effectively.

While both men are top 10 bantamweights, they’ve taken different roads to get to this point. Torres is the former champion looking to work his way back to the top of the bantamweight division, while Johnson is the new kid on the block ready to prove that he belongs among the 135-pound elite.

If fighting is analogous to chess, this fight will see Torres playing the part of the stoic master who carefully thinks every move through, while Johnson will be the dude in the park killing everybody at speed chess.

Since joining forces with Firas Zahabi and shifting his training camps to the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Torres has traded in his aggressive, balls to the wall style for an approach based on game plans, patience and creating the right opportunities.

That’s not to say that Johnson doesn’t come into his fights with a game plan, it’s just his strategy seems to revolve around using a frantic pace few can match in combination with quick, textbook takedowns, leaving opponents on their heels unsure of whether to defend a strike or a shot.

I understand why this match-up isn’t getting a great deal of attention. Fans are still learning about the lighter weight classes, and with a lightweight title fight and a collection of well-known names scattered across the card, its easy to overlook the guys you’ve never heard of before in the division you haven’t really seen that much of in the past.

I’ll give Spike TV and the UFC a high five in advance for putting this fight on the Prelims Live broadcast.

You’ll do the same after Torres and Johnson leave you thoroughly entertained.