Building the Perfect UFC Flyweight Fighter
Demetrious Johnson currently reigns over the 125-pound division. However, "Mighty Mouse" has been far from dominant, taking all of his flyweight opponents to decisions in closely contested bouts.
While Johnson is a very well-rounded fighter, he doesn't excel over his adversaries in all areas. There are better strikers and submission artists in the 125-pound class who Johnson could still stand to learn from. The champion is the best at putting everything together inside the Octagon, though.
Mighty Mouse is excellent with the tools he has, but he's far from unbeatable.
What would an invincible 125-pound fighter look like? Let's take assets from some of the best in the division and mold them together to create a super flyweight.
Boxing: Joseph Benavidez
Team Alpha Male has always been known as a group of solid grapplers, but Joseph Benavidez and others are changing the perception of that team with improved boxing.
In his most recent outing, Benavidez put Darren Uyenoyama away with punches to the body. That finish marked Benavidez's second knockout win in only four flyweight appearances.
Benavidez also stopped Yasuhiro Urushitani with his hands. A counter right hook dropped Urushitani and earned Benavidez a spot in the UFC's first-ever flyweight championship bout.
Kickboxing: John Dodson
While Joseph Benavidez may have the best hands in the flyweight class, John Dodson brings a more varied attack into his fights.
Dodson's two knockout wins inside the Octagon have come via punches, but he mixed in a number of kicks against Demetrious Johnson and has the agility to land knees from many angles.
Like Benavidez, Dodson carries knockout power not common in the flyweight division. If he can improve his conditioning and takedown defense, Dodson's striking could allow him to dethrone Johnson at some point should he earn a rematch.
Chin: Tim Elliott
Tim Elliott is not anywhere near the top of the flyweight division right now, but he may have proven to be the most durable fighter in the class through his first two UFC appearances.
Not only did Elliott eat 80 significant strikes from one of the most powerful flyweight strikers, John Dodson, without going down, but he also came back from being rocked badly by an illegal knee from Jared Papazian.
Although it appeared he might not be able to continue after being blasted by the strike while on the canvas, Elliott pushed on and dominated the rest of the bout to earn a 30-25 edge on two scorecards.
Takedowns: Ian McCall
Ian McCall is still in search of his first UFC win, but "Uncle Creepy" will eventually get back on track, and his wrestling is likely to play a big role in the turnaround.
Over six rounds of competition with flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, McCall scored five takedowns, while Mighty Mouse only was able to muster one takedown.
McCall also secured the only takedown in a bout with elite 125-pound fighter Joseph Benavidez.
McCall is going to have some difficulty dealing with the speedier fighters in the flyweight class, but he's capable of beating anyone in the division if he can get his hands on them.
Grappling: Demetrious Johnson
Although Demetrious Johnson was out-wrestled by Ian McCall over six rounds, he only found himself being controlled on the ground in the final round of their first meeting.
More often, Johnson bounces back to his feet immediately after being taken down. And when he scores takedowns of his own, Mighty Mouse is often able to keep his opponents on the canvas or force them to the fence so that he is controlling the center of the Octagon.
Johnson's grappling gave him the edge in a closely contested bout with Joseph Benavidez and helped him wear down John Dodson in his most recent title defense.
Submissions: Jussier Formiga
Jussier Formiga hasn't secured a submission win inside the Octagon, but the Brazilian has as strong a track record for submissions as any other fighter in the flyweight division.
The 28-year-old Nova Uniao product has picked up seven of his 15 career wins via submission, making him one of the best 125-pound jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA.
Only Ian McCall and John Dodson have been able to defeat Formiga, who has championship potential should he find a way to bring his striking up to par with his ground game.
Athleticism: John Dodson
John Dodson is one of the few fighters in the world capable of matching the quickness of Demetrious Johnson.
But he also brings another physical tool that Johnson often doesn't: power.
Dodson is one of the most explosive fighters in the 125-pound class, and that has helped him to two knockout wins in four UFC appearances. That abnormally high finishing rate for the flyweight division is something that usually can't be taught, and it's a direct product of Dodson's outstanding athleticism.
Conditioning: Demetrious Johnson
Demetrious Johnson faded in his flyweight debut against Ian McCall, and it nearly cost him a spot in the inaugural UFC 125-pound title fight.
Since fighting to a draw with McCall, though, he appears to have perfected his weight cut and is now going five rounds with no issues. In the fifth round of his most recent bout against John Dodson, Johnson landed more strikes than he had in any of the prior four stanzas.
With improved conditioning to go along with his blistering speed, Johnson is going to be a tough champion to dethrone.