KANSAS CITY: Demetrious Johnson picked apart Wilson Reis before catching him in an armbar and forcing him to submit Saturday night, retaining his UFC flyweight title for the 10th time to match longtime middleweight king Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive defences.

Johnson (26-2-1) toyed with the third-ranked Brazilian challenger throughout the first two rounds, peppering him with jabs and kicks before deftly slipping away. But after knocking him down at 4:49 of the third, “Mighty Mouse” quickly clamped down on an arm bar and forced Reis to submit.

It was a stunning ending to the UFC’s debut in Kansas City given Reis’s jiu-jitsu pedigree.

The only fighter ever to hold the flyweight belt, Johnson extended his win streak to 12 straight to tie Georges St-Pierre for the third-longest in UFC history. Silva won 16 straight fights at his peak, while suspended middleweight Jon Jones is riding a 13-fight win streak.

“I went back and did a lot of things different in this camp and this is the best I’ve felt,” Johnson said. “You know what? I think the crowd recognises, I’m the best champ to ever step in this octagon.”

In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas delivered a crushing kick to Michelle Waterson before leaping onto her back and cinching a tight rear-naked choke that forced a second-round tap-out.

The strawweight contenders, both ranked in the top 10, shared a hug as they got to their feet.

“I was surprised at the power that Michelle had. She’s tough, man,” said Namajunas (7-3), who bounced back from a loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 201 with arguably the best performance of her career. “I feel like I can go all the way to the belt and hold it for a while.”

On the FOX-televised undercard, Robert Whittaker sent a jolt through the middleweight division by stopping third-ranked Ronaldo Souza with a barrage of punches in the second round.

Whittaker (19-4) was a big underdog against “Jacare,” but he looked far more explosive after a tactical first round. Whittaker stunned Souza with a right hand 30 seconds into the second, hit a right high kick moments later, then unloaded with about 90 seconds left to force the stoppage.

It was Whittaker’s sixth straight win since moving to 185 pounds.

“A lot of people let the hype get in their heads given he’s a legend of jiu-jitsu and MMA,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s not a grappling match. It’s not a jiu-jitsu match.”--AP

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Demetrious Johnson (right) battles Wilson Reis during their Flyweight Championship bout on UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. AFP
Rose Namajunas (left) takes down Michelle Waterson during their Women's Strawweight bout on UFC Fight Night. AFP
Robert Whittaker (left) punches Jacare Souza during their Middleweight bout. AFP