Many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans had been clamoring for a flyweight division for years. With promotions like Shooto across the Pacific Ocean and Tachi Palace Fights stateside showcasing 125-pounders, it was only a matter of time before the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) followed suit and built a home for the small but exciting fighters.
A flyweight division was rumored for years but only began to materialize late in 2011 when an official announcement was made by UFC head honcho Dana White.
Four men would do battle inside the Octagon in two bouts with the winners advancing to fight each other. The winner of that bout would be crowned the first UFC Flyweight Champion.
Joseph Benavidez did his part by knocking out Yasuhiro Urushitani during UFC on FX 2: "Alves vs. Kampmann," staking his claim to a spot in the tournament final.
The other half of the bracket didn't pan out as smoothly.
Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson went back and forth for three rounds with "Mighty Mouse" being announced the winner. It was later revealed a judging snafu incorrectly led to the split decision ruling and the bout was actually a draw. Had the correct decision been realized, a sudden death fourth round would have taken place.
Tonight (June 8, 2012), both flyweights get more than one round -- five, in fact -- to determine who will face Benavidez for the title. Three months ago, they were supporting acts on an FX card but now their names are on the marquee for UFC on FX 3: "Johnson vs. McCall."
Before they take the stage for a second time, let's take a look at their historic first encounter.
Johnson acts as the early aggressor as the bout gets under way. Both men begin trading kicks as the speed each possesses at 125 pounds becomes readily apparent.
A nice combination from "Mighty Mouse" connects to his opponent, who responds by clinching Johnson up and tripping him down to the mat. From on top, McCall begins to jockey for a better position but Johnson is doing everything he can to avoid danger.
Scrambling around on the canvas, Johnson is able to reverse position on "Uncle Creepy." For his part, McCall is able to get back to his feet shortly after but almost immediately eats a stiff punch. Johnson begins bouncing around, throwing solid combinations while not allowing McCall to answer back.
A body kick from "Mighty Mouse" is caught and the wrestler is sent momentarily to the canvas. McCall can't keep his opponent down, however, and is forced to defend a takedown himself moments later. "Uncle Creepy" is able to defend but takes a right hand to the jaw which visibly shakes the number one ranked flyweight.
As McCall staggers back, the Australian crowd begins to vocalize their excitement and "Mighty Mouse" goes in for the kill. But his opponent fights him off and survives into the next round.
The second stanza starts off with fireworks as Johnson shoots in for another takedown and manages to tag McCall just as he did in the round previous. The mustache aficionado is backed up against the cage and both men begin throwing leather with near reckless abandon.
Johnson is backed up but as the bout reaches its halfway point, "Mighty Mouse" is firmly in control. Johnson's dominance continues throughout the end of the round as both fighters look to the third and final five minute period.
For "Mighty Mouse," it's a matter of holding steady. For McCall, he must do something drastic if he hopes to pull off the unlikely victory.
And that's exactly what he does.
Fighting through an uncalled low blow, "Uncle Creepy" works towards a huge slam, finally getting Johnson on the mat for an extended period of time. The wrestler, a bit gassed from his first cut to 125 pounds, seems to be easy pickings for McCall.
Shoving Johnson face first to the mat, the Tachi Palace Fights veteran begins raining down vicious ground and pound. Punches and elbows all meet with Johnson's skull as McCall attempts to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat.
"Mighty Mouse" is finally able to escape his opponent's clutches but with less than a minute to go in the fight, he once again finds himself on the mat. This time, McCall has him mounted but the ground and pound attack remains the same.
Like a man possessed, McCall wails away on his opponent. Unfortunately, time intervenes before the referee does.
The first flyweight fight in UFC history would go on to be the evening's "Fight of the Night."
After the judging irregularity, both men have unfinished business inside the Octagon they will sort out tonight ... hopefully.
With five rounds to do their thing, can McCall finish the job he started -- and nearly completed -- back in March? Or will the Johnson who cleaned house for two rounds show up long enough to win the rematch?