UFC 186 preview: Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” JohnsonUFC 186 goes down this weekend at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and in this article we will preview the night’s main event, where UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (21-2-1) looks to defend his title against Kyoji Horiguchi (15-1).

Johnson has quietly been moving his way up the pound-for-pound rankings, not having lost a fight since 2011.  Since winning the inaugural UFC flyweight title, Johnson has proved the naysayers wrong.  They said 125ers don’t have power?  Johnson KOs Joseph Benavidez.  To those who say 125ers aren’t exciting, they clearly have never watched one of Johnson’s fights.  Even in his fights that have gone the distance, he pushes an unrelenting pace, working for advantages on the feet and on the ground, going for takedowns, trying to let his opponents never gain an inch.  Johnson is now on a seven fight win streak, most recently having defeated Chris Cariaso by submission in the second round at UFC 178.

Horiguchi has worked his way up the flyweight ranks, most recently having defeated Louis Gaudinot by Unanimous Decision at UFC 182 in January.  Horiguchi is 4-0 in the UFC and 9-0 in his last nine fights.  Horiguchi favors a standup game and setting a fast pace; nine of his wins come by T/KO, alongside one submission and five decisions.  His lone loss comes in the form of a decision.

This is my pick for Fight of the Night and Johnson and Horiguchi will likely set a pace that will put the rest of the card to shame.  Horiguchi would do well to try and set Johnson off balance early and not allow him to set the pace, but that will be next to impossible to accomplish.  Johnson is an expert at imposing his will on his opponents, setting them off balance with crisp striking and combinations, then dropping for a quick takedown just when his opponents think they have him figured out.  He’s a master of the transitions and scrambling, and his killer instinct is high as he remains ready to pounce on even the smallest of openings.

Horiguchi’s striking is solid and he may land a few good punches on Johnson, but his wrestling defense won’t be enough to keep Johnson from taking the fight where he wants to, when he wants to.  Johnson’s reign as champion no doubt plays a large factor in the betting odds as he is a massive favorite at -800 while Horiguchi is a significant underdog at +760.

Watch for Johnson to set the pace early.  He won’t dive in recklessly, but instead systematically push Horiguchi to see if he can break his will.  I do think that Horiguchi has lasting power, so if Johnson can end the fight it won’t be until late in the fourth round or early in the fifth, but the most likely pick is to see this fight go to (an exciting) decision.