As captured by the UFC cameras in September, Jefferson native Johnny Case reacts ecstatically to his debut win. Now, there’s little doubt that “Hollywood” is for real: This month in Boston, Case calmly walked toward the center of the canvas and respectfully bowed to the crowd after moving to 2-0 in the multi-billion-dollar UFC.

Two up, two down. Who’s next?

In Boston on Jan. 18, Jefferson’s Johnny Case crushed any doubts about him

By MARTY BALL
m.ball@carrollspaper.com

Before Johnny “Hollywood” Case could step into The Octagon for the second time of his professional UFC career, the lightweight scrapper had to spend some time in the waiting room.

They say third time’s the charm and this time around was no exception.

Frankie Perez, of Howell, N.J., stepped up to the challenge of taking on the undefeated Jefferson native on Jan. 18, but only after both Paul Felder and Francisco Trevino backed out just weeks before the fight was scheduled.

Case, sporting an unblemished 1-0 record after defeating Kazuki Tokudome by technical submission in September, was ready for whoever was willing to enter the cage with him.

Perez happened to be that unlucky individual.

About to perform in front of thousands of live fans at the Boston TD Garden and millions of television viewers via the Fox Sports 1 network, Hollywood seemed — as the late and great Stuart Scott would freshly put it — as cool as the other side of the pillow.

The 25-year-old remained calm, pacing back and forth in his corner until the first-round bell rang. Then the action commenced.

The two fighters spent the first few seconds testing each other on the feet before the first punches and kicks were thrown.

Following a handful of back-and-forth shots to each other’s head and body, Perez gained a brief advantage by taking Case down to the canvas 54 seconds into the bout. With five previous victories won by submission under Perez’ belt, Case had one thing to do: Get out from underneath.

Hollywood was able to accomplish that feat 33 seconds later and the fight was immediately back on the feet, but not for long.

The wrestling-background grappler countered Perez’ short-lived achievement with a takedown of his own, but Perez wouldn’t get up so easily. Case improved his position on top by landing some heavy ground-and-pound strikes before a stalemate was called,  causing UFC referee Bryan Miner to allow both fighters safely back to their feet.

With 45 seconds left in the period, that’s where the warriors remained until the Round 1 bell dinged.

Round 2 looked much like its predecessor through the first minute of action. Shortly after, Perez got in deep on a takedown attempt, but was stuffed short due to a strong defensive sprawl made by Case.

At first glance, it would seem that Case gained the upper hand as he was momentarily in the top position once again, but a shifty move by Perez gave the New Jersey native his first opportunity to gain control of the fight.

Attempting to perform a leg lock submission on Case’s exposed left leg, Perez appeared to have a tight grip and an overwhelming advantage if the move was executed properly.

However, Case managed to slip out of the lock and found himself in the top mount position for the second time.

Continuing his ground-and-pound efforts, Hollywood was back in the driver’s seat and couldn’t look more comfortable if he tried. The former Ram wrestler used his keen mat skills to keep any of Perez’ counters at bay and continued to do so until allowing Perez to work back to his feet with two minutes left in the period.

Earning a third takedown just 30 seconds later, Case continued to show the judges just how prepared he was coming into the fight. The push and the drive displayed by the young gun seemed to be wearing on a fatigued Perez as Case poured on an onslaught of punches and elbows through the second round’s conclusion.

Showing dominance through nearly the entire first two rounds, it was safe to say that Johnny Case had his second UFC fight locked up in his favor, just as long as nothing bizarre took place in the third and final frame.

But instead of smooth coasting and winning the fight by judge’s decision, the rising star took to his nickname and gave the live audience something they paid good money for — a Hollywood finish.

With just over three minutes left to go in the fight, Case began unleashing a series of fists on Perez after taking him down for the fourth and final time.

As Perez began showing that we was no longer able to defend himself, Miner stepped in, pushed Case off of Perez’ dazed body and stopped the fight.

Case had just won his second straight UFC bout, and this time by TKO.

In a more composed nature — compared to his ecstatic debut win over Tokudome — Case calmly walked toward the center of the canvas and respectfully bowed to the crowd.

Now standing tall at a respectable 2-0, Johnny “Hollywood” Case has proved to any doubters out there that if anyone belongs inside The Octagon, it’s him.

Editor’s note: Marty Ball is a Jefferson native who works as assistant sports editor of the Carroll Daily Times Herald.

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