UFC Vegas 72: Cody Durden’s Wrestling Key In Decision Win Over Charles Johnson

Cody Durden and Charles Johnson, UFC Vegas 72
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 29: (L-R) Cody Durden punches Charles Johnson in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Conflict between Cody Durden and Charles Johnson sprung up before the two even got into the cage on Saturday night for their flyweight tilt.

Months of Twitter spats bled over into the face-offs on weigh-in day. In the fight, Durden was expected to attempt to wrestle to win while Johnson was presumed to want to keep it on the feet, but fight dynamics do not always go according to expectation.

Johnson came out moving forward and attacking but when he slipped Durden went for a takedown. As Durden jumped on top, Johnson inverted on his leg for a heel hook attempt and then scrambled to his feet. He got dumped back to the mat by Durden, who then took the back and got a body triangle before one minute had passed in the fight. Charles was strict as far as using his hands to defend his neck but Durden lost the body triangle and fell off. He tried to get back on but only got one hook in and fell off again.

That sequence repeated itself with Durden never relinquishing the body-lock until Johnson was finally able to explode to turn into Cody and get to distance again with one hundred seconds left in the round. Johnson was urgent on the feet but Durden was sharp with some good counters before shooting for a single leg and setting Johnson down against the fence. A wild scramble in the final moments ended with Johnson trying to lock up an awkward reverse triangle choke, but Durden was not really at risk of going out and was freed from Charles’ grasp by the bell.

Johnson pressed onto the front foot again in round two but he quickly got stuck in a rear body-lock again against the fence. Cody Durden got him to the ground and established a strong top position. Durden got to the back once again, this time with two hooks in, but slipped off when Johnson stood up. Once again he kept a solid grip of Johnson, was able to mat return him, and get his back. But Johnson did well to scramble out of the position with eighty seconds left in the round. In the final thirty seconds of the round he was able to turn up the pace and pressure to deal damage before the bell.

Durden appeared to be up two rounds to nil but the momentum at the end of the second was Johnson’s, who has traditionally been a strong late-round fighter. Johnson pressured forward again and did damage to Durden early but Durden was competitive with him. The important moment came when Durden had his first takedown of the round stuffed with ease by Johnson.

Johnson turned up the pace and did damage but no singular massive blow landed, he just worked on attrition. Durden had one more takedown stuffed two minutes into the round but then landed a big right hand and had another takedown stuffed in quick succession. Halfway through the round he was finally able to get a takedown and then transition to backpacking Johnson again. With forty seconds left Johnson tried to shake Durden over the top but Cody kept the position and held on to the final bell.

It turned out that the dynamic predicted by most fans pre-fight was accurate, and the wrestling of Durden won out as all three judges gave him all three rounds. After the fight it seemed that Johnson and Durden squashed their beef, as they shook hands, shared a few words, and had a quick embrace. In his post-fight interview, Durden even shouted out Johnson, praising him as a tough opponent.

Official Result: Cody Durden def. Charles Johnson by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)


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