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BALTIMORE -- It appears as though Anthony Johnson will indeed hold his own in the UFC's light heavyweight division. Hold his own and then some.
Johnson (17-4) made a successful UFC light heavyweight debut Saturday, as he dominated the highly ranked Phil Davis in the UFC 172 co-main event at Baltimore Arena. All three judges scored the 205-pound contest for Johnson, 30-27.
It was Johnson's first UFC appearance since January 2012, when he was released for missing weight multiple times as a welterweight and middleweight. Johnson made a permanent move to the light heavyweight division later that year.
A former NCAA Division I national champion wrestler, Davis (12-2) was never able to get Johnson on the floor -- which played a key role in the fight. He attempted eight total takedowns and was unsuccessful in every one of them.
Johnson, who improved to 5-1 as a light heavyweight, hurt Davis in the first round with a short right uppercut. The strike put Davis on roller skates and opened a cut over his left eye. He did survive an ensuing flurry from Johnson after the shot.
The second round played out similar to the first, as Johnson patiently stalked Davis while defending takedowns. He blocked the majority of Davis' kicks as well, usually countering with combinations any time Davis threw one.
Johnson outstruck Davis at a near 2-to-1 clip, landing 60 strikes while absorbing just 32, according to FightMetric. He nearly took Davis' head off with a kick in the final round, after Davis whiffed on a head kick.
A member of the Blackzilians, Johnson extends his win streak to seven. He is now 8-4 overall in the UFC. Davis suffered his first loss since January 2012.
Chalk up a few style points to Luke Rockhold on this one.
Rockhold (12-2) took home another stoppage in the UFC middleweight division, as he tapped Tim Boetsch with a kimura at 2:08 of the first round.
The finish comes three months after Rockhold starched Costas Philippou with a liver kick knockout less than three minutes into the fight.
"The reverse triangle that I got him in, that's my bread and butter," Rockhold said. "Everyone thinks I'm just a striker, but don't sleep on my submission game.
"I knew I had the sub but [Boetsch] such a tough guy, he fought [the submission attempts] for a while.
After the win, the former Strikeforce champion wasted no time calling out Vitor Belfort, who knocked him out in his UFC debut last year.
Boetsch (17-7), a heavy underdog, found himself in trouble immediately. He shot on a single leg takedown early -- which would prove to be his only move of the fight.
Rockhold scrambled on the attempt and moved seamlessly into an inverted triangle. The choke never appeared close to tapping Boetsch, but it rendered him helpless the rest of the fight. The choke left Rockhold free to work on Boetsch's right arm.
The only setback for Rockhold was a broken second toe on his right foot.
"I felt my toe pop out early," Rockhold said. "It's not quite Jon Jones' [toe injury against Chael Sonnen in 2012], but it's still pretty messed up."
Rockhold improves to 2-1 in the UFC with the win. It is the seventh submission win of his career.
Boetsch, who won four consecutive fights in 2011 and 2012, falls to 1-3 in his past four appearances.
Jim Miller might be finding his groove again.
Miller (24-4) earned the 14th submission win of his career with a first-round finish over fellow lightweight Yancy Medeiros.
After hurting Medeiros (9-2) with a straight left, Miller jumped on a guillotine choke during a scramble and eventually put Medeiros to sleep. Referee Mario Yamasaki called an end at the 3:18 mark, after Medeiros slipped into unconsciousness.
"Once I got my right leg out, I had a good angle," Miller said. "I felt it cutting off circulation and I knew he'd tap or go out.
"I'm here to beat the best; it's not about the belt for me.
"I've got the record for most submissions in my weight class and I'm looking to add to that record every time."
Medeiros attempted to use his height and reach advantage to keep Miller on the end of his punches but failed to land anything significant. When Miller caught him on the chin with the left, he smiled and waved him forward -- still unsteady on his feet.
Miller jumped at the invitation and moved in on Medeiros with a flurry. After a brief tie up, Medeiros dropped on a takedown, which opened a window for the guillotine. Medeiros fought the choke valiantly, even electing to go out rather than tap.
It's the second consecutive first-round finish for Miller. The New Jersey native subbed Fabricio Camoes via armbar at UFC 168 in December.
Medeiros, who saw a win over Yves Edwards in November change to a no-contest after he tested positive for marijuana metabolites, falls to 0-2 in the UFC.
Featherweight Max Holloway nabbed his second consecutive finish with a third-round submission over Andre Fili.
The final sequence started when Holloway (9-3) hurt Fili in an exchange along the fence. As Fili dove for a takedown, Holloway rolled into a guillotine choke that produced the tap at 3:39 of the round.
"I was sick all week. I really only got out of bed for my weight cut and my media obligations," Holloway said. "It was incredibly tough, but I've got a family to feed and I don't make any excuses.
"My strength and conditioning for this camp was awesome, and that allowed me to power through the sickness that I had."
Fili (13-2) jumped ahead of Holloway on the scorecards early, as he dictated range on the feet and worked behind a steady game plan of leg kicks.
The fight changed quickly in the next round, when Holloway hurt Fili with a spinning back kick to the midsection. Fili didn't go down from the shot, but it appeared to sap some of the bounce in his step.
A member of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Fili picked up his takedown attempts in the second half of the fight. He had limited success getting Holloway down, however, converting just three of his 12 total attempts.
In addition to the spinning back kick, the straight right hand was a major weapon for Holloway. The volume of his strikes appeared to weigh on Fili, as he was clearly the more tired of the two in the final round.
Holloway, 23, improves to 5-3 in the UFC. He recorded a second-round TKO over Will Chope at a UFC Fight Night event in January.
Fili falls to 1-1.
Joseph Benavidez put Tim Elliott in such a bad spot that he didn't even have a hand to tap with.
Benavidez (20-4) submitted Elliott at 4:08 of the first round via mounted guillotine. Referee Mario Yamasaki called the flyweight bout as Elliott, whose hands were trapped under Benavidez's base, tapped madly with his feet.
"That was the first time I was able to pull off the 'Joeaconstrictor' -- a submission I've worked on and attempted in modified versions in the past," Benavidez said. "Even Joe Silva said he had never seen that before in the Octagon. Tim is tough and I knew an old-fashioned punch to the face wasn't going to stop that wild man, so I had to be creative.
"He is an awesome opponent, and that was a lot of fun out there."
Elliott (10-5-1) tried to set a high pace on Benavidez early. He charged the former No. 1 contender with punches and shot immediately into a single leg takedown.
The strategy produced good results at first, as Elliott scored three quick takedowns. He opened a cut over Benavidez's right eye with hammerfists from top position.
Elliott struggled to match Benavidez's skill on the floor, however. Benavidez worked back to his feet twice and then swept Elliott to his back after the third takedown. He eventually moved into side control and then full mount.
Once the right arm slipped under Elliott's chin, the tap was inevitable.
Benavidez rebounds from a first-round knockout loss to 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson in December. He is 7-2 overall in the UFC, with four finishes.
Elliott falls to 2-3 in the Octagon.