Two devastating first-round knockouts. Two post-fight demands. Two fighters who still have work to do. That was my takeaway from UFC Fight Night 94 in Hidalgo on Saturday with lightweight Michael Johnson and middleweight Derek Brunson both stating their case for a big step up in competition and more money the next time they step into the Octagon. Johnson’s Johnny Manziel-esque hand gesture looking for more cash following his devastating knockout of Dustin Poirier at the 1:35 mark of the first round almost made me sick, especially after listening to his post-fight interview with Jon Anik. Johnson looked great, no doubt. But coming off back-to-back losses as a favorite each time, he had a lot to prove against Poirier. Guess how he could have put himself in much better position for a title shot and justified rubbing his fingers together? By beating Nate Diaz last December. That was his best chance to make a serious statement in front of a national television audience. Instead, he blew it in losing a unanimous decision while Diaz ended up parlaying that victory into the opportunity of a lifetime versus Conor McGregor. That’s not to say Johnson would have fought McGregor, but that’s who he wants now. Then there’s Brunson, who has a slightly better argument for a title shot. He has finished four consecutive opponents in the first round, which is definitely an impressive feat. However, he was favored in all of those fights, with the previous three before the most recent one against Uriah Hall coming as heavy chalk. I’d like to see Brunson fight another Top 10 opponent like Gegard Mousasi — who he was supposed to meet at UFC 200 — or Robert Whittaker before he is worthy of a Top 5 foe. Regardless, UFC Fight Night 94 was an entertaining card, and kudos to Gabe Killian and Nick Kalikas for picking Johnson to pull off the upset. I may be a little bitter because I lost a parlay by taking Poirier, as Johnson definitely has a lot of talent and deserves to face a Top 5 lightweight next. But his “show me the money” routine was unwarranted in my opinion and rubbed me the wrong way. What about you?
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