Written by: Julian McLeod
Anticipation for the UFC on FX 2 card is starting to kick into high gear, especially since it’s coming off arguably the best PPV card of the year (so far). I doubt anyone can suggest something better than the introduction of the Flyweight division into the UFC to follow such an event. MMA fans of the future will look back on this period of mixed martial arts and appreciate the rise of the smaller weight classes as they continue to steal the show and gain respect for their world class skill, relentless pace and rich potential. While I can’t wait to see Jussier Da Silva, Yuki Shojo and many others, I think that what’s going on in Australia this weekend will feature enough action to make everyone happy.
There is something about a tournament that demands attention and respect; it’s like a definitive formula to find out who truly is the best. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded on such a structure in 1993, and now, in 2012, Bellator is preparing for a whole new season of MMA tournaments to crown number one contenders. Despite the problems that can arise from having a tournament, it’s a proven fact that tournaments can make stars and, going forward in their FOX deal, more stars is exactly what the UFC needs.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is certainly on form, as he has selected a diverse group of Flyweights to be in the first official UFC tournament since 1999. It didn’t really matter who was matched up with whom, as each fighter is skilled enough to capitalize on the opportunity at UFC on FX 2 to launch themselves into superstardom. The line up is nothing short of high quality: Ian McCall, the consensus number one at Flyweight; Yasuhiro Urushitani, the heavy handed dark horse in the tourney; Demetrious Johnson, a title challenger who was perhaps fighting out of his optimal weight class; and finally, Joseph Benavidez, the incredibly tough and well-rounded alpha-male whose only losses have come from the current UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (14-2 MMA; 2-1 UFC) vs “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall (11-2 MMA; 0-0 UFC)
This will be the first UFC Flyweight bout ever, and there is a high probability that this could be the fight of the night. Johnson is coming into UFC on FX 2 with a hard-fought loss to Dominic Cruz in their championship bout. Many analysts believe that it is “Mighty Mouse” who will benefit the most from the addition of the Flyweight division, as Johnson has proven his ability to control much bigger opponents like Miguel Torres and Damacio Page which puts him in a powerhouse position against opponents of his size. Johnson is also known for his quickness and wrestling ability, and for good reason: he’s strong and tenacious, and a real handful to any fighter, and there is no reason why Johnson can’t carry all of his strengths down to 125lbs.
“Uncle Creepy” has one of the most inspiring stories in MMA. After returning to form after some tough losses in his career and the personal problems that he had to battle though, Ian McCall revitalized his career like no one could have expected. He became the Flyweight Champion of Tachi Palace Fights by besting fighters such as Dustin Ortiz, Jussier Da Silva and Darrell Montague. All this was accomplished in the space of a year, and McCall looked better with each passing fight. He has great grappling ability, both offensively and defensively, and even though in terms of striking he’s not of the elite level, McCall can still hold his own on his feet. However, his true ability lies in the pace that he sets, allowing McCall to overwhelm his opponents.
Prediction: While I think that McCall is one of the best Flyweights in the world, I think that Johnson should be able to take the fight wherever he wants it, which will most likely be on the ground with Johnson on top, controlling the fight and taking the safest route to victory.
Result: Johnson by Unanimous Decision
Joseph Benavidez (15-2 MMA; 2-0 UFC) vs Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6 MMA; 0-0 UFC)
Yasuhiro Urushitani is most likely the biggest underdog in the tournament, and all the odds are set against the former Shooto Bantamweight Champion. Make no mistake: Urushitani deserves to be in this tournament as he is the most experienced fighter and holds notable wins over Yuki Shoujou and Jon Dodson. On his feet, he is the most dangerous man in the cage in Australia. Urushitani’s main weapons that he’ll be bringing to his debut inside the octagon will be his high-level counter-striking ability and a speed advantage against Benavidez. In the sport of MMA, we are always taught to expect the unexpected, and Yasuhiro Urushitani will be quite motivated to open some eyes.
Joseph Benavidez will arrive at UFC on FX 2 riding on a three fight winning streak that began after his second loss in the UFC to Dominick Cruz. He should feel right at home at 125lbs. Benavidez’s credentials stretch all the way back to the WEC. He has great conditioning, outstanding wrestling, an aggressive style of fighting and the ability to choke out anyone. It’s a guarantee that he’ll be ready for this tournament, as he has been training with the likes of Chad Mendes and Urijah Faber. Benavidez is not only capable of winning this tournament, but he has the potential to sit on the Flyweight throne for a very long time.
Prediction: This is Benavidez’s fight to win, as he’s had experience against high level strikers before and this should be no different. I see Benavidez wanting to make a distinct impression and will therefore look to end the fight quickly in dominant fashion.
Result: Benavidez by Submission in Round 1