MMA Fighters Who Could Challenge Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight Title Next

Sean SmithAnalyst IDecember 15, 2013

Could McCall present Johnson with another rematch soon?
Could McCall present Johnson with another rematch soon?Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Demetrious Johnson disposed of another contender at UFC on Fox 9, knocking out Joseph Benavidez in an important flyweight rematch. With another tough challenger behind him, options are becoming limited for "Mighty Mouse" in his still-developing 125-pound division.

A quick look at the current flyweight rankings suggests Johnson is set up for dominance in the UFC's newest male division.

In his past five fights, "Mighty Mouse" has beaten No. 1 contender Benavidez twice, defeated No. 2 and No. 3 contenders John Dodson and Ian McCall in decisions and submitted No. 4 contender John Moraga. As a result, no contender currently sticks out as being next in line to challenge Johnson.

Here are most intriguing options as the 125-pound division currently stands.


John Dodson

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; John Dodson reacts after defeating Darrell Montague (not pictured) by knockout in their flyweight bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

Although "The Magician" has only picked up one win since losing to Johnson, he's still a viable choice to be next for the flyweight champion.

Dodson was unanimously beaten on the scorecards against Johnson, but the Jackson's MMA fighter was competitive with the titleholder and gave "Mighty Mouse" a scare with a second-round knockdown. Like Benavidez, Dodson brings power to the equation against Johnson, but he is also quick enough to avoid being blown away by the champion's speed.

Following a win over Darrell Montague in October, Dodson could have made a significant case for a title shot had he beaten Scott Jorgensen on Saturday. However, an injury forced Dodson out of that matchup and put him in a position where he'd only be named the next title challenger out of desperation.


Ian McCall-Brad Pickett Winner

There's little doubt Johnson would like to avenge a bantamweight loss to Pickett.
There's little doubt Johnson would like to avenge a bantamweight loss to Pickett.Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Having already come up short of victory in two fights with Johnson, McCall would be a surprising candidate to fill in as the next flyweight title challenger. 

However, even as a newcomer to the 125-pound class, Brad Pickett is a legitimate option to meet the champion. Along with bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz, the Englishman is one of only two fighters to hold a win over Johnson.

If Pickett finds a way to beat "Uncle Creepy" in March, the intrigue of a rematch with "Mighty Mouse" could quickly propel him into his first shot at a UFC championship.


John Lineker

Lineker's weight-cutting issues are all that holds him back from a shot at UFC gold.
Lineker's weight-cutting issues are all that holds him back from a shot at UFC gold.Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The Brazilian has won four in a row and is the most highly ranked contender without a loss to Johnson. In that sense, he's the ideal fighter to meet "Mighty Mouse" now.

Unfortunately, Lineker has missed weight in three of his five UFC appearances. That troubling trend presents the risk that Lineker would ruin a title fight, though, so it's unlikely he will be booked for a championship bout until he gives UFC matchmakers a reason to trust him.

Lineker has teamed with famed MMA nutritionist Mike Dolce, so should he make weight and keep his winning streak going through his next fight or two, it will only be a matter of time until he gets his chance to fight for the belt. Still, that time is not now. 


Dustin Ortiz

Currently unranked and the owner of only one UFC win, Dustin Ortiz is barely in the race for a title shot, but he has a hugely important fight coming up.

At UFC Fight Night 35, Ortiz will meet former title challenger John Moraga. Should he beat Moraga impressively in January, the 24-year-old will immediately be considered a Top 10 flyweight and a legitimate threat to Johnson's championship.

With the Johnson's next opponent being so uncertain right now, Ortiz has a golden opportunity to throw his name in the hat next month.