WASHINGTON - UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz demonstrated his versatility Saturday night by winning a unanimous decision over Demetrious (Mighty Mouse) Johnson.
Cruz had his hands full early on with the busy Johnson. Frustrated somewhat by Johnson's speed, the champion eventually used takedowns to control the challenger and pile up the points if not the damage.
Judges, noting Cruz's Octagon control, scored it 50-45, 49-46, 50-45 for Cruz.
"It was a tough fight," said Cruz. "The kid's got a sick pace, man, so I had to outwrestle him.
"You've got to be able to switch everything up, you can't fight everybody the same. So I wanted to show a little bit of my grappling in this fight. I was looking for the finish but he toughed it out."
In the co-main event on the televised card at the Verizon Center, six-foot-11 Dutch heavyweight Stefan (Skyscraper) Struve submitted five-foot-11 Pat (HD) Barry at 3:22 of the second round.
The five-foot-eight Cruz (19-1), who has not lost since moving down to 135 pounds, defeated former featherweight title-holder Urijah Faber last time out.
The five-foot-three Johnson (14-2) was coming off wins over Kid Yamamoto and Miguel Angel Torres.
"I was surprised how strong he was," Johnson said of the champion.
Cruz used his herky-jerky punch and kick attack, coming in from all angles. Johnson also attacked at speed, looking for an early takedown. But it was the champion who got top position first. Johnson got back up and eventually took Cruz down briefly later in the round.
In the second, Cruz started with another takedown — but could not keep Johnson down and the busy challenger kept pressing. Johnson's speed kept Cruz guessing but the champion took Johnson down in the final minute, although he was unable to do much damage.
Cruz scored with a suplex in the third, ending up on top of a facedown Johnson and looking for a choke. Johnson fought his way out, however, and got back to his feet, attacking Cruz at the fence.
Another Cruz takedown in the fourth blunted the Johnson attack. Cruz worked into mount position before Johnson got back into guard and then got back up.
Another big suplex landed Cruz on top early in the fifth and he scored with some elbows from inside Johnson's guard. Johnson, whose left cheek was badly swollen, kept coming but Cruz took him down again and got full mount.
Johnson got back up but was unable to deliver the telling blow he had looked for all night.
Struve (26-5) had a 9.5-inch reach and 18-pound weight advantage over Barry in the battle of kickboxers.
Barry (6-4) stalked Struve in the first round but produced little other than a few leg kicks. Struve looked to counter-punch or attack from the clinch.
Barry landed an uppercut in the second and tried a head kick on his taller foe. But Struve wrestled him to the ground and worked his way into a triangle choke. Barry postured up and tried to slam Struve but the big Dutchman held on, adding an armbar, and Barry had to tap.
"I'm thrilled with the result, man," said Struve who called Barry "one of the coolest dudes in MMA."