Longtime veteran and former top-ranked fighter Michael Johnson beat UFC sophomore Darrius Flowers at UFC Vegas 86, in a performance that showed new skills are still being developed in his camps after all this time.
Darrius Flowers was signed last year to fight on short notice, as he lost to Jake Matthews up a weight class, at welterweight. Meanwhile, Johnson was coming off a brutal, one-punch, out-cold knockout loss to fellow talented vet Carlos Diego Ferreira. At age 37, that naturally raised questions as to how he would look in his next fight, but they were laid to rest in this fight with his clean performance.
Darrius Flowers shot for an early double-leg takedown but Johnson saw it coming a mile away and stuffed it. Johnson looked good in the early going; his slick boxing allowed him to hit and not be hit. His jab was especially effective and Flowers had trouble landing with his hands, but his kicks stabbed at the body of Michael frequently.
After the first round Flowers’ corner told him that he lost the round due to inactivity, which was probably true. They wanted him to let his hands go, but he had trouble. Johnson kept up his boxing assault, with special focus on the body. He wobbled Flowers a minute into the round, and kept rolling downhill after that, only pausing for an accidental groin strike. He even mixed in the wrestling, easily taking Flowers down with a double leg. In the final seconds of the round Jognson landed knees to Darrius’ body which drew a verbal reactoin, and then almost choked him out with a north-south choke.
In the final round, Johnson got off to a strong start again, bundling Darrius Flowers over in the first minute and establishing side control. Michael attacked a Kimura from half-guard after that by trying to isolate an arm, but the strength of Flowers saved him. He stayed in half-guard or side control for almost the full round. He was only in full-guard for a few seconds, at which time Darrius tried to lock up a triangle and then an armbar, but it did not work.
Flowers exploded to his feet with one minute left and then fell to his knees while going for a takedown. Flowers punched him hard as he turtled up. Johnson then grabbed for his angle and managed to get to a safe enough position, on his knees with Flowers above him with his legs attempting a reverse triangle.
Although the third round became sketchy for Michael Johnson, by that point it was academic after a dominant first two rounds. All three judges scored all three rounds for him anyways, giving the veteran the deserved win. He showed he could still progress as a fighter at thirty-seven years old, and clearly has a lot more in the tank.
Official Result: Michael Johnson def. Darrius Flowers by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)