With the UFC flyweight division in need of some decent competition, can Ben “10” Nguyen be the man to capture the gold from champion, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
On Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 110, Nguyen needed less than one minute to do to Tim Elliot what Mighty Mouse couldn’t do in 25. Nguyen made short work of the former title challenger and TUF winner, and secured a rear naked choke at 0:49 of the very first round to walk away with a submission victory in front of his home crowd. With this impressive win came a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus and Nguyen became only the third man to ever submit the battle-tested Elliot in his long and storied career.
As mentioned above, Tim Elliot challenged for the UFC flyweight title in late 2016, at the TUF24 Finale. On the night, Elliot (who won the competition in order to face Mighty Mouse for the title) caused some issues for Johnson and looked close to submitting the champion in the first round. However, Johnson was able to survive and rally (as champions do) and dominate over the next four rounds to see out a Unanimous Decision win in his favour.
Johnson’s next opponent was Wilson Reis, who was riding a three-fight win streak prior to meeting the champion. In the main event of UFC on Fox 24, Johnson once again showcased his talent and completely dominated the fight in every facet. In the third round, “Mighty Mouse” was able to lock in an armbar on the bloodied and fatigued Reis, to come away with his tenth career submission victory. With this win, Johnson tied Anderson Silva’s recorforof most consecutive title defenses in the UFC, with ten.
However, since this record-tying win, things haven’t been so sweet for the flyweight champion. After being accused of turning down a fight with TJ Dillashaw, by UFC President Dana White, Johnson recently went on record lambasting the organisation. With relations with the UFC tarnished, perhaps another title defence against Nguyen is Johnson’s best option? Remember, with one more win, Mighty Mouse will have the record for most successful title defences in UFC history.
Johnson must tread carefully though as Nguyen is not a fighter to be trifled with. Ben “10” is on a two-fight win streak in the talented and underrated Flyweight division and is one of only a few men that DJ has yet to face inside the Octagon. He could, therefore, pose Demetrious with some new and intriguing problems if they were to meet. Nguyen is a former Nitro MMA Bantamweight champion – famously knocking out Julian “The Jackal” Wallace to win the gold (see below) – and has a respectable professional MMA record of 18-6 (4-1 in the UFC).
Nguyen is also a very well-rounded fighter, holding a brown belt in BJJ and third-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Prior to signing with the UFC, he was riding a nine-fight win streak and has only lost once in his last twelve fights.
With Johnson seemingly out of fresh challengers to face in his division, could the 28-year-old, Nguyen be next in line to challenge for the title? More importantly, is Ben “10” the man to dethrone the long-reigning UFC flyweight champion?