UFC Vegas 93: Asu Almabayev Continues Ascent, Extends Streak Versus Jose Johnson

Asu Almabayev and Jose Johnson, UFC Vegas 93
Asu Almabayev and Jose Johnson, UFC Vegas 93 weigh-in Credit: Youtube/UFC

Top prospect Asu Almabayev added to his undefeated streak against divisional newcomer Jose Johnson at UFC Vegas 93.

Hailing from Kazakhstan, Almabayev went undefeated in thirteen fights before joining the UFC, where he went 2-0 with two submissions before meeting Johnson. Jose was moving down from bantamweight to flyweight, a division he has never fought in and one that people were skeptical he could make. However, at 6’0″ he made the limit at 126 lbs, and so the fight was on.

As the much smaller man, Almabayev retreated and circled to start the fight. Johnson remained patient because of the wrestling threat but felt his way forward behind kicks. When he threw a teep to the midsection ninety seconds into the round, Assu grabbed the leg, pulled forward into a body-lock, and twisted Jose to the ground. Almabayev landed in half-guard but Johnson regained full. Almabayev landed nothing big, but consistent damage with short shots put him ahead. Johnson scrambled to his feet but Almabayev dashed to the back body-lock and then took the back. He almost took the neck, too, but Jose just barely slipped out of the rear-naked choke, surviving to the end of the round.

Almabayev opened round two with a surprise spinning kick that landed on Johnson’s chin. He then shot but Johnson got on top in a high mount, which allowed Almabayev to wrestle up and end on top. Johnson was able to lock up a triangle at the end of the scramble, however, which forced Almabayev to defend for the next minute. When Asu did get out, he instantly got on the back of Johnson and instantly went on the attack. Johnson turned and forced Almabayev to go to mount, where Jose was able to regain butterfly and then full guard. He never escaped fully though, and got his back taken again in the final thirty seconds of the round, where Almabayev attacked with damage and a choke attempt.

Johnson’s cardio level bore watching coming into the final round given his history at higher weight classes. Almabayev opened with a spinning kick to the body and a shot, which was partly successful. Johnson got up but Almabayev got on the rear body-lock. However Johnson was able to turn the tables by pushing Almabayev over and getting mount, then the back take. He attacked the submission he needed to win the fight but Asu scrambled and turned until he ended up back on top. The Kazakh wrestled dominantly and landed ground strikes consistently, only working his way to the back with one minute left in the round. Johnson fought the hands diligently, however, and protected his neck right to the horn, despite several close calls with the choke attempts of Almabayev.

The decision obviously went as expected, with Asu Almabayev winning all three rounds on all three scorecards. ‘Zulfikar’ declared himself one of the top five best flyweights in the world and called out Kai Kara-France in a bold statement.

Official Result: Asu Almabayev def. Jose Johnson by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)