Michael Johnson has made drastic strides with his game. Ask Tony Ferguson.

The Imperial Athletics representative fought a brilliant strategic fight against Ferguson and defeated “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 winner by unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 3 “Diaz vs. Miller” on Saturday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. All three judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Johnson (11-6, 2-2 UFC).

Johnson set the tone midway through round one, as he momentarily stunned and dropped Ferguson (13-3, 3-1 UFC) with a stiff left hand. It was a harbinger of what was to come. Johnson attacked his foe’s arms, body and legs with blinding kicks and backed them up with one left hand after another, repeatedly snapping back Ferguson’s head. “El Cucuy” never found himself, overwhelmed by Johnson’s speed, aggression and firepower. He entered the cage on a six-fight winning streak and left it with stalled momentum, beaten for the first time under the UFC banner.

Dodson Outlasts Newcomer Elliott

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner John Dodson escaped an ultra-competitive encounter with Tim Elliott, earning a unanimous nod from the judges in an undercard duel at 125 pounds. Dodson (13-5, 2-0 UFC) swept the scorecards by identical 29-28 counts, despite the fact that he appeared to sustain an injury to his left hand in the first round.

Elliott (8-3, 0-1 UFC), a late replacement for Darren Uyenoyama, acquitted himself well in his first Octagon appearance. The aggressor throughout, the 25-year-old Oklahoman threw everything he had at the man they call “The Magician.” Dodson countered effectively, worked his angles and slammed knees into his opponent’s body.

With two rounds seemingly in the bank, Dodson, hampered by the inability to use his most trusted weapon, lost his way in the third. Elliott tagged him repeatedly with power shots, standing up the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative more than once with stiff left hands. Dodson survived. Elliott arrived.

Hathaway Hands Krauss First Loss

London Shootfighters standout John Hathaway re-established himself as one of the world’s top young welterweights, as he cruised to a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Pascal Krauss in a preliminary bout at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Hathaway: 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.

Hathaway (16-1, 6-1 UFC), in his first appearance in more than a year, landed virtually all the strikes of consequence -- including a first-round knee that floored Krauss (10-1, 1-1 UFC) -- and delivered takedowns in rounds two and three. As the match neared its conclusion, Hathaway stepped up his aggression, tagging and bloodying the Roufusport representative with two more knees, a few right hooks and a spinning-back fist.

Gaudinot Guillotine Spoils Lineker Debut

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 alum Louis Gaudinot rendered former Jungle Fight champion John Lineker unconscious with a second-round guillotine in an action-packed preliminary flyweight match. Lineker (19-6, 0-1 UFC) went limp 4:54 into round two, his 13-fight winning streak a thing of the past.

Before being ensnared, Lineker did some excellent work on the feet, unleashing power punches to the head and body. The shots to Gaudinot’s midsection were particularly devastating. However, the green-haired Gaudinot (6-2, 1-1 UFC) refused to wilt. The Team Tiger Schulmann representative scored with a late takedown in the second round and trapped the Brazilian in the guillotine as he rose to his feet, his neck exposed. Gaudinot wrapped Lineker in full guard and waited for him to black out.

“The second round, he caught me and backed me up a little bit,” Gaudinot said. “I just wanted to show the fans that the flyweights belong in the UFC. I catch all my training partners with [the guillotine]. I love it. I knew it was in. Once I’m under the chin, they’re done.”

Danny Castillo File Photo

Castillo gave Cholish his first loss.

‘Last Call’ Halts Cholish Streak

Team Alpha Male’s Danny Castillo defeated John Cholish by unanimous decision in a tactical but largely uneventful lightweight battle on the undercard. All three cageside judges scored it for Castillo (14-4, 4-1 UFC) by matching 30-27 counts, as he halted Cholish’s eight-fight winning streak.

Castillo delivered the only moments of note with a pair of slam takedowns, one of them at the end of the second round. Cholish (8-2, 1-1 UFC) seemed tentative from the beginning, especially on the feet, and grew more desperate as the fight deepened. In the third round, perhaps sensing his situation was dire, the 28-year-old Renzo Gracie protégé attempted a kneebar, standing guillotine and heel hook. None were successful, and Castillo walked out of the cage with the decision.

Bermudez Grounds, Dominates Garza

Takedowns, a suffocating top game and steady ground-and-pound carried “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 finalist Dennis Bermudez to a one-sided unanimous decision over Pablo Garza in a preliminary featherweight tilt. All three cageside judges scored it for Bermudez (8-3, 1-1 UFC) by identical 30-27 counts.

Outside of a series of first-round upkicks and the occasional submission attempt, Garza’s offense was virtually non-existent. Bermudez dumped the North Dakotan on his head repeatedly, scoring with eight takedowns in the 15-minute affair. He punctuated his effort with a strong third round, as he moved to mount with a little more than a minute left and fished for the rear-naked choke until time ran out. Garza (11-3, 2-2 UFC) would not cooperate, but victory was already assured.

Delorme Taps Denis with Last-Second Choke

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 alum Roland Delorme submitted Sengoku veteran Nick Denis with a first-round rear-naked choke in their brief but memorable undercard scrap at 135 pounds. Denis (11-3, 1-1 UFC) succumbed to the hold 4:59 into round one.

Delorme (8-1, 2-0 UFC) was in danger for much of the encounter, as his fellow Canadian drilled him with punches, from distance and in close quarters. A late replacement for the injured Johnny Bedford, the 28-year-old found himself on wobbly legs after a succession of rights from Denis, referee Keith Peterson hovering nearby. However, Delorme turned the tide with a pair of left hooks and an inside low kick in the final minute. He scored with a trip takedown, moved immediately to mount and caught Denis in an attempted escape. The choke followed soon after, along with the tapout -- with one second remaining on the clock.

Vemola Choke Submits Massenzio

Karlos Vemola submitted Team Bombsquad representative Mike Massenzio with a second-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary middleweight matchup. Massenzio (13-7, 2-5 UFC) conceded defeat 67 seconds into round two.

Vemola (9-2, 2-2 UFC) answered a ringing combination from his opponent with a takedown at the start of the second frame, wheeled around to Massenzio’s back and secured the fight-ending choke. No hooks were necessary. Vemola, a 26-year-old Czech Republic import, has now delivered more than half (five) of his nine career wins via rear-naked choke.

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