What a long strange trip it's been.
When looking at the current UFC 152 fight card, which is (hopefully) expected to take place this weekend (Sat., Sept. 22, 2012) from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, it's pretty interesting to look back at the chain of events that transpired in the run-up to the pay-per-view (PPV) event.
While one debacle may be freshest in your mind, there were many others that led to the fights that will be going down just days from today.
One of those "debacles" -- perhaps the earliest associated with this event -- was the amazing fight between Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson at UFC on FX 2 in Australia earlier this year. It was scheduled as one of the two bouts that night that would kick off the flyweight mini-tournament to determine the first 125-pound champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history.
Johnson was favored, but many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans were getting behind "Uncle Creepy" leading up to the scrap.
It was pretty big news in itself that there were going to be flyweights in the UFC, let alone that there would be a tournament to decide the first champion. There was even a special caveat that if these fights were to be scored draws, an unprecedented fourth round would determine the winner.
McCall and Johnson are both tremendously skilled fighters, and the action-packed fight delivered despite the lofty expectations. We saw two of the world's most skilled fighters square off in a back-and-forth battle of wills, with plenty of action all around.
Then came the judges' decision.
Judges are scrutinized all the time for making some pretty odd decisions, and many fans wonder what criteria these people are actually using. Make no mistake, it was an incredibly close fight, splitting up fans as to who they believed won. In a rare occurrence, many fans actually thought the fight should have been a draw, and apparently so did the judges.
But, that's not what was announced immediately post-fight. The ending was incorrectly announced in Johnson's favor; however, it revealed shortly thereafter that the scores were incorrectly tabulated. Johnson jumped for joy, while McCall was pretty angry ... and rightfully so.
However, as I said above, an official at the event made a critical mistake that caused the announced results to not reflect the actual judges' decision. That's right folks, he couldn't add up his 10s, 9s and 8s correctly, leading two men to wrongfully believe one of them won a fight that was scored a draw. This news came out shortly after the event, and the official, Craig Waller, even had to issue a public apology.
Before I get into what happened after this, I'd just like to put this episode into perspective for you: In the first-ever flyweight fight in the UFC, the first ever UFC fight that was set to go to one more round in case of a draw, was supposed to end in a draw. Then, a simple math mistake completely ruined it.
When the news came out of this development, the two fighters were both given their win bonuses, and both were promised a rematch. The winner of their rematch would fight Joseph Benavidez -- who won his bout against Yasuhiro Urushitani on the same night as their draw -- for the vacant UFC flyweight belt.
After a long period of waiting, the two finally had their rematch in the main event of UFC on FX 3 in June. Unlike the first fight, it was clear that one fighter had won, that fighter being Johnson. He showcased a much better approach and came out of the fight looking like the decisive winner, as opposed to their first match. With that, Johnson was given his promised title fight with Benavidez.
Certainly a lot of controversy for a bunch of small people. Without events occurring as they did, it's pretty likely that we would already know today who was crowned the UFC flyweight champion. And, perhaps, we would be waiting for his first title defense.
Instead, the two will go head to head in the inaugural UFC flyweight championship fight, scheduled for this Saturday night (Sept. 22) at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
That's just the small (pun intended) tip of a very large UFC 152 iceberg.