To kick off UFC 155's FX preliminary card, we had a compelling bout between hot lightweight prospects in Michael Johnson and Myles Jury. Jury was 10-0 in his MMA career, with all those wins coming by first-round stoppage. Johnson, meanwhile, owned a 12-6 record (4-2 in the UFC), but he has been exciting many with his well-rounded game, rooted in strong ground-and-pound.
When they began fighting, Jury quickly established himself as the favorite. He stayed that way throughout, dominating Johnson on the ground with a thoroughly superior top game that Johnson simply didn't have an answer to. Jury would get a unanimous 30-27 scoring and vaulted up any given prospect list with this convincing victory.
So what did we learn from this compelling bout between future lightweight stars?
Myles Jury Is Really Good
Seriously, I was not sure what to expect out of Myles Jury, but through six fights, we know that Michael Johnson's a really solid lightweight. Yet Jury utterly dominated him from bell to bell.
Granted, we don't know how Jury's striking will stand up against other, stronger lightweights (though he has four TKO victories and two submissions from strikes). That said, and once again, this was an amazing beatdown over a very solid lightweight.
There is no real way to critique Jury here. Seriously. What an amazing effort from him.
Still Work to be Done for Johnson
Once again, Johnson was 4-2 coming into this fight. We've seen him knock folks out. We've seen him out-work them on the ground.
Michael Johnson is a very strong fighter, but he seemed completely lost when he ended up on his back. Give him credit for surviving, because he did take quite the beating. Criticize him, though, for getting bested so thoroughly in a way that we shouldn't see in modern MMA.
In a lightweight division packed with wrestlers from top to bottom, you need to be able to work your way off your back. You don't necessarily need to have a Nick Diaz-like active guard, but you cannot expect to have long-term success without a solid defensive ground game.
This is a bad, bad loss for Johnson, and it should really color the lens he is viewed through until he proves that this huge hole in his game has been patched.
Myles Jury Deserves a Step up in Competition
When you give an effort as strong as Myles Jury just did, a promotion through the ranks has to come with it. With that promotion comes tougher competition. There is no shortage of good lightweights that Jury can fight against.
There are, after all, several good fighters about to come over from Strikeforce. Maybe the winner of Ryan Couture vs. KJ Noons? Maybe Jorge Masvidal? Maybe even Josh Thomson?
There are also plenty of established fighters coming off a loss that he could put on a good bout with. Mark Bocek comes to mind. George Sotiropolous also should be considered, given how he is now riding a three-fight losing streak. The loser of Evan Dunham vs. Gleison Tibau also fits in perfectly.
Plenty of options for Jury.
Michael Johnson Still Has a Bright Future
If it sounds like I'm doomsaying Michael Johnson, my apologies.
At age 26, Michael Johnson still has plenty of fights ahead of him, and training with a camp as great as the Blackzilians means that he can instantly start improving any given aspect of his game. Even though Johnson got beaten badly here, he could very well come into his next fight with his guard better polished.
Even though he had a rough outing, one or two fights and we will forget all about it. He still has a strong top game and plenty of power in his hands.
Michael Johnson is still a fighter that, two or three years from now, could be in the thick of the title picture. There is no reason for Johnson, or his fans, to be especially nervous about his career in any big way.