Hell, he was even announced the victor in the cage.
But that all changed once it was discovered that an official had mistakenly scored the bout incorrectly. The bout was ruled a majority draw backstage and a rematch was instantly booked just over four months later.
The first fight against McCall was one of the more entertaining bouts of the year, with both men having an advantage at points, trading sweeps, takedowns and heavy strikes on the feet. The bout was part of theUFC flyweight semifinal tournament to determine the top two contenders for its inaugural 125 pound title.
Johnson and McCall will finally settle the score this Friday night (June 8, 2012) in the main event of UFC on FX 3 in Sunrise, Florida. "Might Mouse" spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission where he talked about what went wrong the first time around against McCall, what went right and what he'll be changing this time around in the rematch.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Did you actually feel a difference coming down to 125? You were at a size disadvantage throughout most of your career at bantamweight but you fought Ian McCall at 125 who's a huge flyweight. Did it actually feel any different?
Demetrious Johnson: Not really, no. I agree he is a huge 125 pounder. I heard a rumor that he cuts 13.5 pounds the day of weigh-ins so I don't know how he does it or maybe he's BS-ing. He's pretty big, but not bigger than Miguel Torres, who's 5'11 or Dominick Cruz. He's pretty big too.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were considered the fastest guy at 135 pounds. Did you feel that the speed translated even though you dropped down a weight class?
Demetrious Johnson: Yeah, I thought so. I made him miss a lot with my footwork and there were sometimes where he'd throw a kick and I'd sashay it and just keep coming forward. I felt I had the speed advantage and I felt like my athletic ability was the biggest gift I had as well as my speed.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your wrestling and takedowns are something you pride yourself in, but in these last two fights, you've found yourself on your back for a considerable amount against Dominick Cruz and Ian McCall. Is that something that concerns you?
Demetrious Johnson: It's part of the sport. The last two fights, I stand with these guys and I guess I"m getting the best of the exchanges. I guess against Cruz, that was a silly fight. I kept on jabbing my range and he would take me down and just hold me down. With Ian McCall, he'd catch my leg and sweep me and I'd grab a whizzer and I'd flip over his head and fall down.
It hasn't been like a beautiful double leg against me like I've done against opponents like Kid Yamamoto or Damacio Page. I'm always working on getting better and developing my skills and that's just part of the game. The more you fight, the more aggressive you are with your strikes, you're more at risk of being taken down.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think that's a factor where you've put so much time in on your stand-up that now people are more worried about that and are trying to take you down? Is that the case?
Demetrious Johnson: It's possible. I talk to my coach all the time. Matt Hume tells me, "If this was the Pride days, it's not a big deal to be taken down. A guy could take you down and hold you down and lay on you but he wouldn't get any points because they're not trying to finish the fight."
When I was fighting Ian McCall, I talked to my coaches and they said, "If you hadn't thrown that flying knee in the third round, you probably would have won the fight via split decision, but you took a risk, tried to end it with a flying knee and he got ahold of your leg and put you on the ground."
It happens. I could go out there and be very conservative with my strikes and not do anything and be a sissy and not throw anything and I guarantee I won't get taken down but that's not going to happen. I'm a man. I'm going to go out there, take it balls to the wall and go after it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned about the takedowns and everything. If the fight had gone to a fourth round like it was supposed to, the third round did not end well for you. Do you think you would have been able to pull it out in the fourth?
Demetrious Johnson: I think so. It was a tough round. My shins were destroyed. I suffered a hematoma in my right shin. My mouth was cut up but I think I would have gone out there to the best of my ability and not tried to engage in clinchwork against him. If you watch the fight, the only time I ever had any downfall in my fight against him was when he got ahold of me. The same thing with Dominick Cruz where these guys are trying to use their size against me. I'm working on that. I did a different type of weight cut where I didn't carb up like I usually do and I wasn't 110% like I was for my fight against Dominick Cruz. I kept coming after Dominick, kept coming and coming and coming and I never got tired.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like this delay will be a benefit for the winner of this fight against Benavidez because he's going to be on ice for so long waiting this out?
Demetrious Johnson: I don't think so. He was on ice for a long time before he fought Yasuhiro Urishitani and his last fight before that was seven months so he stays after it. He'll be fine.
Gerry Rodriguez: How much of a ballbuster was it to be announced the winner and then find out it was a draw? What goes through your head?
Demetrious Johnson: Honestly, it sucked. I'm the kind of person where, "It is what it is." I can sit around and complain, say, "it's BS, we're supposed to be a professional organization, how can you let this happen?" but I'm not that type of guy. My job is to fight. They pay me to fight and entertain and I just have to make sure to do a good job, put on a good show and make sure my body's in shape.
Ben Thapa: What's the process of preparing for a rematch? This is the first rematch of your career. Is this a different process? Do you build from the old gameplan in preparation or do you have to come up with something completely new?
Demetrious Johnson: Well I'm going to be working on my overall game to get better, and I'd like to get some more size on me. I'd like to come into the weight cut a lot bigger. When I got to Australia, I was 135. I think Ian McCall came in like 143 and Joseph came in about the same size as me. I wanted to make sure I made the weight cut because it was the first time cutting down to 125 in my professional career.
This time, I'll come in a bit heavier. The day of the weigh-ins, I cut two pounds, so I was pretty small. If you watch the fight, I was very drawn out still from my weight cut. I didn't want to say I did it wrong, but my diet wasn't good or anything and I was still able to handle myself.
Demetrious would like to thank AMC Pankration, his gym, his coaches, X-Box 360, Universal and Endzone Athletics. You can follow him on twitter @MightyMouseUFC.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will a bigger "Mighty Mouse" be better in the rematch? How do you like his chances against McCall on Friday night?
To listen to the complete audio of our interview with Demetrious Johnson, click here (begins at the 19:00 mark).