UFC on FX 2: Breaking Down the Flyweight Tournament
This Friday night, Ian McCall, Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez and Yasuhiro Urushitani all compete in the inaugural flyweight tournament to crown the long-awaited, and much-anticipated, first Flyweight World Champion in UFC history.
McCall and Johnson are matched up for their semifinal fight, leaving Benavidez and Urushitani to dance off for their crack at the actual gold, and of course, the winners will face each other in the final, slated to go five rounds.
What follows this brief preview is how the tournament breaks down and how "yours truly" sees this one ending.
Ian McCall vs. Demetrious Johnson
Both men are former WEC Bantamweights, both have losses to Dominick Cruz, and both push a relentless pace while employing quick take-downs, fast-acting ground games, and strong striking regiments.
Johnson is viewed as the better wrestler, and the drop in weight could see a more advanced striking game, as well as a more dominating all-around offense than what some may remember.
But, the Team Oyama standout trains with a bevy of solid Muay Thai fighters and employs that style well against his opponents while pushing his own pace on his foes.
I've said it before, and I'll say it a hundred times until I see different: Johnson is going to push McCall as much as McCall is going to push Johnson, causing this one to end in a split draw, causing this one to hit the sudden victory round.
If it goes into that sudden victory round, one man has to go.
While Johnson will likely be the smaller man and the quicker of the two at first, McCall has made it clear that he will have no second thoughts about out-muscling Johnson if he has to.
Setting up the opportunity to take the sudden victory round with his technical striking offense, McCall will, in fact, find a way to defeat Johnson and prevail at the Allphones Arena.
Winner: McCall by Unanimous Decision at the end of the Sudden Victory round (Initially, a Split draw, 29-28 Johnson, 29-28 McCall, and 28-28 even, with McCall taking the fourth round as a 10-9).
Joseph Benavidez vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani
(Joseph Benavidez (right)-Ed Mulholland for ESPN.com)
The difference between Joseph Benavidez and Yasuhiro Urushitani in this fight is sweet, slimy, greasy speed.
Joseph Benavidez is a balls-out fighter that always maintains a fast pace while staying composed. Urushitani does as well, but some say Urushitani is a bit predictable in his striking and his movements, which is a recipe for disaster against Benavidez.
Don't count on this one ending before the first minute, unless Urushitani tries to blow his adrenaline out early looking for a knockout, as this one will be fast, furious, and a true test of wills.
In fact, with the sudden victory round in effect, seeing this one ending in a draw is out of the question.
Whether it goes to the sudden victory round or ends in the first three, Joe assures everyone that a Joemoplata is in store for us come Friday night.
I beg to differ.
Winner: Joseph Benavidez by Joemoplata...whatever that will be...in the third round or the sudden victory round.
Will Demetrious Johnson Face Yasuhiro Urushitani If Both Are Defeated?
(Demetrious Johnson-Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images via ESPN.com)
It's likely that both face off even if both make it to the final, because the division is growing still.
On paper, Johnson is more of a complete package than the counter-striker Urushitani, but beneath the surface, Urushitani's counter-striking could very easily throw Johnson off-guard.
At the same time, Johnson's overall style throws fighters off-guard, and even Dominick Cruz will admit that DJ is one of the fastest fighters he's ever faced inside the cage.
One other thing Johnson has on Urushitani, besides the possible edges in aggression and take downs, is the submission game. He's a Matt Hume-trained fighter who has shown a fast-acting submission offense in the past, and Urushitani's only loss by way of a finish did come by submission.
Urushitani has as good a chance as Johnson, and if he can put Johnson on his back somehow, a TKO finish is in the cards.
If not, the fight could be all Johnson for as long as it lasts.
Winner: Demetrious Johnson by 3rd round submission or Yasuhiro Urushitani by 2nd round TKO (punches)
If Joseph Benavidez Fights Ian McCall in the Final, Who Will Prevail?
Ian McCall (Josh Hedges/Zuffa/Getty Images via ESPN.com)
IF Benavidez vs. McCall is the final, how does this one go?
Both men push the pace and are a tough match for their opponents in this tournament, but would Benavidez's pace be tough for McCall to match?
Would the overall striking of Benavidez reveal itself as too much for McCall?
Would Muay Thai serve a burden for the anatomical structure of Benavidez for under five rounds?
Just as I could see the two semifinals going into the sudden victory rounds, I see the title match going into the championship rounds, ending in round 5 with both men tying it up one round a piece.
Benavidez takes at least one of the first two rounds by figuring out McCall, having "Uncle Creepy" on the ropes a few times.
And, while Benavidez might be up 2-1 after the third, McCall will remain composed and find a way to mix it up in the later rounds.
In this battle of wills, who will end up the victor?
I believe Benavidez and McCall will relentlessly push each other back and forth in possibly the most electric Flyweight bout in MMA history.
As far as the outcome goes, we will agree to disagree on how this one ends.
Winner and NEW UFC Flyweight champion: McCall wins the title by split decision (48-47 x2; Benavidez 48-47, De Souza scorecard: 48-47 Benavidez with Benavidez winning the 1st, 2nd, and 5th rounds)
Upcoming Fights to Watch in the Flyweight Division
UFC on FOX 3:
1. John Dodson vs. Darren Uyenoyama
2. John Lineker vs. Louis Gaudinot
Also, keep it locked into any outside organizations that contain a Flyweight division of any sort, even if they don't call it the "Flyweight" division.
This division could grow and flourish into one of the big money divisions of 2012 in MMA.
If I missed any Flyweight fights—and yes, Strawweight fights, including the 115ers in this mix as well, do count—please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comment section below!