Both men set a blistering pace in which they flew across the cage in a blur, definitely keeping the cameramen on their toes. The crowd thought McCall won, but Johnson was announced the victor.
Some scoffed at the announcement that the UFC would use a sudden death fourth round in the wake of a draw, but it turns out that's what the judges ruled when three rounds were over. Unfortunately, a commission mistake cost both men their opportunity to advance to the flyweight tournament finals.
So now the big question remains, what happens next for both men?
Both men flew across the cage early, bouncing around on their toes and it was Johnson who scored with some swift leg kicks but McCall countered with a terrific trip takedown. In the striking, "Mighty Mouse" found a home for his right hand when he had space to lunge inside and land it, but when he did that, McCall countered in the clinch with some excellent short knees and elbows.
After a failed takedown attempt of his own, Johnson landed the best strike of the fight with a sharp right hook which staggered McCall and definitely caught his attention. The AMC Pankration fighter would find a home for that right hand again as McCall would occasionally drop his left, but McCall fired back with some nice leg kicks attacking Johnson's lead leg. It was an entertaining and extremely close first round.
The second round was just as close, this time McCall did not score any takedowns. In the open striking phase, Johnson was able to dart in and out with some nice right hands and both men traded powerful flurries of strikes. It was another round which was extremely difficult to score, although many impartial observers saw it for Johnson.
The third round was the most decisive of the bout as after some more even striking exchanges, McCall got a trio of takedowns. While Johnson got back to his feet after the first one, McCall was all over him with big punches and advancement of position for the second and the third was the most damaging of all after "Uncle Creepy" passed to mount and dropped some serious punishment, even playing to the crowd as time expired.
We all know what happened next, Johnson was announced the winner via split decision even though the judges had ruled it a draw. It all got sorted out at the post-fight press conference, but fans and both fighters were denied what would have been an amazing and decisive fourth round.
For Demetrious Johnson, he was effective early in the fight with some nice leg kicks and when he had proper space, he was able to land some solid punches as well, especially that right hand which repeatedly found a home. His biggest issue was getting taken down five times throughout the fight and especially in the third round when he began to fade a bit and McCall was able to take over with his wrestling and ground and pound. In the rematch, he's going to have to stay in space a little more and really work that right hand.
For Ian McCall, he definitely made a terrific UFC debut and gained a boatload of fans with his performance. He's a high energy guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and the fans appreciated what he was able to bring to the fight. He showcased some nice power in his leg kicks, some strong inside strikes in the clinch and his offensive wrestling and ground and pound was top notch. His biggest problem was dropping his hands and allowing Johnson to connect with some big right hands of his own especially in the first two rounds.
There's no use speculating on who each man will fight next, it's already been announced that there will be a rematch once both men are recovered and ready to do it again. The first fight was very close and enthralling and I expect nothing less next time around.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
If things had been announced properly, who would have won the sudden death fourth round last night? Who do you favor heading into the rematch later this year? Can either man defeat Joseph Benavidez?