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The upcoming UFC on Fox 24 card is full with elite talent, up-and-coming stars and extremely well-matched fights. The card is already touted as one of the best FOX cards ever, and it’s easy to see why when it is headlined by a championship battle between Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson and Wilson Reis.
‘Mighty Mouse’ is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC today and has now defended his UFC Flyweight title nine consecutive times. A victory against Reis ties him with Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive title defense’s in the UFC (10).
This bout was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 201 as the co-main event for Lawler vs. Woodley but was scrapped because the UFC likely wanted to ensure that Demetrious Johnson remained the champion in time to face the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 24. Tim Elliot was the man who proved victorious in the reality show and was given the opportunity to step inside the octagon with one of the greatest in the sport.
‘Mighty Mouse’ was expected to be dominant against Tim Elliot and odds closed with Johnson as a 3/25 1.12 -840 0.12 -8.40 0.12 favourite against the winner of TUF 24. Elliot’s ability to scramble and create chaos in grappling exchanges and on the feet ensured that Johnson wasn’t going to cruise to a victory like he had done previously against the elite of the flyweight division. Elliot managed to lock in a beautiful D’Arce choke while everyone watching held their breath and wondered whether Mighty Mouse’s run at the top was to come to an end. Johnson managed to escape, of course, and recover. However, it was the first time in a long time that Demetrious Johnson had lost a round inside the octagon.
It was a gorgeous display of mixed martial arts from Johnson to get him over the line with a perfect blend of wrestling, submission grappling, striking and at the end of the day, pure heart and determination to overcome the challenge in front of him. The effect of TUF 24 and Elliot’s shot at Johnson was that Wilson Reis had to wait for his opportunity against the reigning champ to come around.
Reis didn’t employ the usual tactics that exist in today’s UFC of just waiting for your title shot and not risking defeat, instead, he has competed twice since the original bout was canned. He managed Hector Sandoval with ease, finding a rear-naked choke in the first round and then battled and defeated the ultra-awkward Ulka Sasaki at UFC 208.
Wilson Reis is an accomplished grappler with many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu accolades, and this is usually what gets him over the line against his opponents, having recorded ten wins by submission. Reis also doesn’t mind to stand and bang with opponents in the center of the octagon, too – throwing lunging hooks before looking to shoot for takedowns.
Reis enters this one with a small height and reach advantage over Johnson, which will be warmly welcomed after last competing against the freakishly long Ulka Sasaki. However, I can’t imagine Reis wanting to trade with Johnson at the mid and long ranges that exist when standing and instead will welcome the short, or closest, range when engaging on the feet. Reason being, if Reis manages to find himself in trouble, he can shoot for a takedown rather than being lit up with strikes.
The question in my mind is whether Mighty Mouse will engage in grappling with Reis or avoid it altogether. Johnson showed incredible composure to escape from harsh submission attempts from Tim Elliot and was not only able to defend but set up his unique style of grappling, also.
Johnson has put away elite talent in the flyweight division with ease in the past, and it’s hard to see Reis, as dominant as he may be on the ground, providing any more of a challenge than Joseph Benavidez or Henry Cejudo did in the past. All fights start standing up, and Mighty Mouse may finish this one before it even gets to the mat.
I’ve never bet against Demetrious Johnson and I won’t be doing it this time, either. Instead, look for value with betting on an early stoppage as I think DJ has a point to prove after he wasn’t able to put away Tim Elliot as many had expected him to do so.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis
Under 3.5 Rounds
Sunday 16th April, 2:30 GMT
Odds: 6/4 2.50 +150 1.50 1.50 -0.67 – PaddyPower