Friday, March 2, 2012

Flyweight tourney proves to be worth the weight


***Please see note at end of article.

The UFC on FX II card may have featured welterweights (170 lbs.) Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann in the main event, but it were the flyweights who stole the show. This 125 lbs. division may have been a long time coming, but it was definitely worth the weight (pun intended). So, just how do you offset a Pitbull and a Hitman, (Alves and Kampmann respectively); you start by pitting Mighty Mouse vs. Uncle Creepy.

No, 'Uncle Creepy' is not a villain to the cartoon superhero, it is the nickname of the universally recognized number one flyweight fighter in the world Ian McCall (11-3, 4 KO's 3 subs). He and 'Mighty Mouse' Demetrious Johnson, former number one contender in the UFC bantamweight (135 lbs.) division were the two participants in the first ever flyweight fight in UFC history, which was part of the inaugural flyweight tournament. I expected the flyweights would be fast, but their speed was beyond anything I ever expected.

McCall and Johnson (15-2, 3 KO's 6 subs) were so quick, that it felt like I was watching a live fight in fast forward mode. An entertaining fight that went back and forth, resulted in what I feel was a horrible split decision as Johnson won on two of the three judges cards 29-28. While Johnson had some moments throughout, he was clearly out wrestled and manhandled by McCall; so much so, that in the third round, McCall had Johnson flattened out while he sat on his back raining down punches and playing to the crowd.

The knowledgeable Australian crowd, which was extremely appreciative throughout and after the fight, voiced their displeasure upon hearing the decision as they apparently agreed with what I saw. McCall was so upset; he stormed out of the cage, which is a real shame as he really lived up to the pre-fight billing he came into the UFC with as the number one flyweight in the world. As UFC President always says, "Never leave it in the hands of the judges."

Apparently Joseph Benavidez (16-2, 4 KO's 8 subs), either took White's words to heart or just said to himself, "I'm not letting that happen to me," after watching the McCall/Johnson fight as he did what McCall didn't; he took the fight out of the judges hands and kept it in his own. Benavidez, another former top contender from the bantamweight division, completely dominated his opponent Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-6-6, 5 KO's), the number one flyweight from Japan's Shooto organization.

In the first round, the fireball that Benavidez is, took it right to Urushitani, implementing his wrestling and just smothering him, eventually taking his back and almost securing a rear naked choke before the end of the round saved the Shooto champ. However, the bell would not prove a factor in the second as Benavidez caught Urushitani with a punch that dropped him dead in his tracks at the beginning of the round and he pounced on him with more unanswered shots that forced the referee to jump in and stop the fight.

Benavidez, my pick to win this tourney when it was set, looks primed and ready, especially as I think he'll just blow through Johnson the way he did Urushitani. It would've been interesting to see how he fared against McCall, but once again a poor judge's decision has robbed not only 'Uncle Creepy', but us the fans as well of a great fight. Regardless, the flyweights have proven to be worth the weight. The heavyweights may pack the punch, but the flyweights pack their lunch because they come to work.

***Note, after this article was written it was determined the scores of the Johnson/McCall bout were tabulated and read incorrectly and the fight should have been scored a majority draw. Thus, a rematch will be in place to determine who fights Joseph Benavidez.

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