Demetrious Johnson has now cemented his spot atop the UFC’s flyweight mountain. The man has toppled the former No. 1 ranked 125 pounder on the planet, Ian McCall, battered Team Alpha Male standout Joseph Benavidez and crushed title hopes for the highly touted John Dodson.
Amazingly, he’s managed this feat in his last three consecutive outings. While that’s very impressive to say the least, it also leaves him in a bit of a pickle; where does Mighty Mouse go from here?
According to UFC.com’s rankings, Benavidez, Dodson and McCall make up the top three contenders for the champion’s title. Having turned each away recently, it’s not incredibly likely that fans are clamoring for any of these rematches. In fact, McCall already earned a rematch (after a questionable decision was rendered and later altered in the wake of their first encounter at UFC on FX 2) at UFC on FX 3, only to be denied by the lightning fast belt owner.
Dodson had his chance last month. Benavidez was out-dueled by a slim margin at UFC 152, the event in which the promotion’s first flyweight champion was crowned. There aren’t too many options remaining for Johnson.
Once believed to be the best flyweight not named Ian McCall, Jussier Da Silva had a nice five-fight win streak brought to a violent halt when he met John Dodson at UFC on FX 5. He’s got some work to do before a shot at gold can be justified.
John Moraga is a promising talent with a wealth of momentum driving him forward. But the question must be asked: has he done enough inside the cage, having toppled un-ranked Ulysses Gomez and Chris Cariaso?
Tim Elliott appears to be a man with a very high ceiling, but he’s racked up just a single win for the promotion. Louis Gaudinot—while gaining momentum—has some serious work to do before he emerges a genuine threat. The talented Yasuhiro Urushitani has seen the wind distance itself from his sails, as he’s dropped two consecutive bouts in recent memory.
There aren’t many options for Johnson at this point. He can take some time off and hope that a contender emerges in the immediate future, but Johnson doesn’t strike me as the type to favor waiting on the sidelines while the UFC’s flyweight division works through the confusion.
My bet is that we see another rematch occur inside of the octagon. With a win over McCall at UFC 156, Benavidez likely paints himself as the most appealing contender in the eyes of Dana White and matchmaker Sean Shelby. While fans may not be keen on a second meeting between these two, options are limited and there’s no sense in keeping a talented guy like Johnson shelved longer than need be.
Look for this rematch to unfold within the next four to five months. I’m no relative to Miss Cleo, but expect an outcome quite similar to their first encounter. I don’t see a wealth of improvement in Benavidez, who is a stellar competitor regardless, and Mighty Mouse is still as fast and elusive as ever.
That said, it’s tough to argue that Benavidez has rightfully earned a No. 2 ranking in the 125 pound division.
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