UFC on FX preview: Johnson vs. McCall
After Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson were deprived of a fourth round in their flyweight tournament semifinal this past March, the two aspiring 125-pound title contenders will finally pick up where they left off in the main event of the UFC's third event on FX Friday night in Sunrise, Fla.
Rounding out the main card is a pair of compelling welterweight matchups and a bantamweight bash between two top fighters on the rebound trail.
Here's a closer look:
Main Card Bouts (on FX)
Ian McCall (11-2-1) vs. Demetrious Johnson (14-2-1)
In an exciting rematch between two of the world's top flyweight hopefuls, both McCall and Johnson are eyeing a breakthrough performance to advance to the finals of the UFC's inaugural 125-pound championship tournament.
McCall, 27, entered his bout with Johnson this past March as a significant underdog. After a 1-2 run in the WEC's bantamweight division, which included a loss to current champion Dominick Cruz, McCall has reinvented himself at 125 pounds, earning marquee wins over Jussier da Silva, Dustin Ortiz and Darrell Montague.
The Team Oyama product delivered a strong showing in his UFC debut, nearly outworking the heavily favored Johnson to win a decision. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, McCall is a sensational wrestler with savvy submission skills.
McCall's size and strength were significant tools utilized in his first bout with Johnson. The former Tachi Palace Fights torchbearer will need to replicate his first performance, while also mixing in effective striking to overwhelm his significantly smaller foe.
Johnson, 25, a former UFC bantamweight title challenger, was initially declared the victor against McCall in March before a scoring error led to the bout being overturned to a draw.
A student of AMC Pankration under Matt Hume, Johnson is one of the quickest fighters in the organization. Standing just 5-foot-3, he's also one of the smallest. A burgeoning star in the now-defunct WEC promotion, Johnson rattled off wins over Nick Pace, Damacio Page, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto and Miguel Torres to emerge as one of the top-ranked bantamweights on the planet.
At a more fitting weight of 125 pounds, Johnson is poised to remain an elite fighter in the newly formed weight class, where his size is less of a detrimental factor.
A durable competitor with a solid foundation in amateur wrestling, Johnson's cat-like speed is the catalyst to his dynamic offense as he dashes in and out of range, while scoring with swift takedowns.
This strategy makes for a compelling clash with McCall, whose wrestling is some of the best Johnson has had to overcome.
This flyweight headliner will ultimately come down to McCall's strength and Johnson's speed. The fighter who utilizes his advantage more effectively will emerge triumphant.
With more big league experience, Johnson could possess a slight edge as his critical combinations and energetic takedowns will score valuable points with the judges.
Verdict: Johnson via decision