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Demetrious Johnson defends crown; Barboza, Whittaker and Rodriguez score wins

Read on for UFC 197 main card results...
JOHNSON vs CEJUDO

Dominance has not made Demetrious Johnson complacent, as he put together another spectacular effort in defense of his UFC flyweight title Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, stopping previously unbeaten Henry Cejudo in the first round of their UFC 197 co-main event.

“There’s no game plan, I come in here and just fight,” Johnson said after his 10th consecutive win and eighth successful title defense.
 


Johnson got off to a fast start to begin the bout, but a takedown by Cejudo 90 seconds into the fight certainly got the champion’s attention. Johnson kicked his way off the canvas though, and then he went to work, landing hard knees and elbows in the clinch. As the two broke, a knee staggered Cejudo, and Johnson moved in for the kill. Seconds later, a knee to the body put Cejudo on the deck and “Mighty Mouse” finished the bout with ground strikes, referee John McCarthy stepping in at the 2:49 mark.

With the win, Parkland, Washington’s Johnson moves to 24-2-1; Phoenix’ Cejudo, the 2008 Olympic Gold medalist in freestyle wrestling, falls to 10-1.

More from UFC 197: UFC 197 results | UFC 197 postfight bonus recap | Dana White has final say on UFC 197 | Jon Jones wins in return, claims interim title | Watch: Champion Cormier reacts to Jones win | Mighty Mouse defends his crown | Pettis, Roberts, Esparza go distance for wins | Harris defeats East in explosive FIGHT PASS battle | Watch the UFC 197 FIGHT PASS prelims on-demand | Backstage interviews: Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Edson Barboza, Robert Whittaker, Yair Rodriguez, Sergio Pettis | Octagon interviews: Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Walt Harris | Best images from UFC 197 | Order UFC 197 replay

BARBOZA vs. PETTIS

Number eight-ranked lightweight contender Edson Barboza stunned Anthony Pettis in their highly-anticipated striking battle, handing the former UFC and WEC champion his third consecutive loss, this one via unanimous decision.

Scores were 29-28 twice and 30-27 for Barboza, now 17-4; Pettis falls to 18-5.
 


Unconcerned by the possibility of a takedown, Pettis looked like his old self in the first half of round one, but it was Barboza drawing first blood – literally – with a left hook that opened a cut over his opponent’s right eye. Pettis stayed busy though, even attempting a takedown of his own that came up empty before firing off the flashy kicks that are his trademark.

Barboza’s left hook continued to hit the mark in round two, landing flush on several occasions. Pettis continued to stay busy, with quick 1-2s and kicks to the body doing well for him, but the more telling blows were being landed by the Brazilian banger.

Pettis showed a sense of urgency in the final round, but Barboza was characteristically cool under pressure, marching forward and not allowing “Showtime” to score with any consistency as he drilled the Milwaukee native with hard kicks to the leg and body, sealing an impressive victory.

WHITTAKER vs. NATAL

Middleweight contenders Robert Whittaker and Rafael Natal both put four-fight winning streaks on the line and it was the number seven-ranked Whittaker who left the Octagon with five consecutive victories, taking a hard-fought three-round unanimous decision.

Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Sydney’s Whittaker, now 17-4; the number 13-ranked Natal falls to 21-7-1.
 


Whittaker was patient with his attack in the opening round, wary of Natal’s takedowns and wild swings. In the final minute though, he found his range and began rocking the Brazilian as the two exchanged against the fence.

Natal’s leg kicks were bruising up Whittaker’s left leg, clearly affecting the Aussie’s movement in round two. Natal was marked up as well, with both eyes showing bruising, and while the round remained close, Whittaker’s cleaner blows may have edged it for him.

In the third, it was a battle between Natal’s leg kicks and Whittaker’s left hand, but it was a kick to the head in the closing seconds by Whittaker that rocked Natal and nearly finished the fight. Yet while it didn’t, it was enough for Whittaker to wrap up the round and the fight.

RODRIGUEZ vs. FILI

Featherweight prospect Yair Rodriguez kept his unbeaten UFC record intact in spectacular fashion, knocking out Andre Fili with a highlight-reel kick in the second round.

Rodriguez came out firing with kicks from all angles, forcing Fili to alter his usual aggressive attack, and soon, the TUF LATAM winner put the bout on the mat, keeping his opponent there until the final minute, where Fili finally had some offensive attacks.
 


Fili had a solid opening minute of round two, but Rodriguez grounded him again, having little difficulty taking the Californian down. But it was what happened when the two rose again that ended matters, as Rodriguez fired off and landed a flying left roundhouse kick that put Fili down and out at the 2:15 mark.

Chihuahua’s Rodriguez moves to 8-1 with the win; Sacramento’s Fili falls to 15-4.

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