Considering that it’s going to result in the crowning of a new champion in a new weight division, the UFC’s flyweight tournament isn’t garnering that much attention. Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey make good on their grudge match this Saturday and are rightfully drawing a lot of attention from the MMA media, but the little guys need some love, too.
So, read on for all you need to know about this weekend’s 125lbs. tournament and its participants.
The four-man field has been divided so that Ian McCall takes on Demetrious Johnson and Yasuhiro Urushitani meets Joseph Benavidez, with the winners of those respective bouts to do battle for the vacant UFC flyweight title.
The oddsmakers have Demetrious Johnson as about a -325 favorite over McCall (about +250) and are picking Benavidez (-900) to win by a wide margin over Urushitani (+550). Both Benavidez and Johnson will be dropping down from bantamweight, where they’ve both fought for the title, to participate in the tourney.
Joseph Benavidez (15-2): At 27-years-old, the Team Alpha Male product had established himself as one of the bantamweight division’s best before dropping to his more natural weight at 125lbs. His only two losses came against bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz and he’s knocked off three straight opponents since last facing The Dominator.
“Now that I’ve cut weight I know this is the right weight for me. Being able to go through a camp at this weight, I noticed the difference in my speed. I gained a focus that I didn’t have at 135lbs. I feel faster and it’s going to make for a dangerous fighter on Friday. I was fast at 135lbs, but at 125lbs I am going to be extremely fast. In the flyweight division you won’t see guys throwing one big punch, but (fighting) complete MMA at a very fast pace. I think this is going to be the UFC’s most unpredictable division.”
Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6): The 35-year-old Japanese veteran has spent most of his career competing in his home country under the Shooto banner. He’ll be riding a five-fight winning streak over mostly unheralded competition into the tournament.
“It was always a dream to get to the UFC and now I am here. I am the underdog in the fight but that is motivation. I like to beat guys who are considered greater than me, and am happy that is the case again. I am more excited about fighting in the UFC for the first time than I am about the tournament. I will get very excited about the flyweight belt once I win my first UFC fight. I was asked for years if I would come to the UFC if they ever did a flyweight tournament, and I almost gave up hope, but now my dream is real.”
Demetrious Johnson (14-2): The tourney’s youngest participant at 25, Mighty Mouse — much like Benavidez — managed to ascend the bantamweight ranks despite a distinct size disadvantage. In his most recent outing (last October), Johnson lost to bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz.
“I’m honored to be in the tournament and was very excited to be asked to be part of it. I’ve cut out a little bit of bad food and done some work in the gym to get down to the weight and I feel great. Now my job is to go out there Friday night and finish the fight, get the win and move on to the title fight. It is historical to be part of this.”
Ian McCall (11-2): The 27-year-old McCall is widely ranked by most as the current number one flyweight in the world. Uncle Creepy has been holding down the division in the absence of the Zuffa spotlight and he hopes to continue doing so on the big stage. McCall also owes his last loss to Dominick Cruz, having gone undefeated in four fights since that WEC appearance.
“I have something to prove, but you always have something to prove. No matter who you are, you can’t be up on your pedestal for too long. I’m ready to prove my worth. I changed my life completely. I’m a completely different person than I used to be in the WEC. Everything from the way I eat to the way I was. I’m more focused on fighting than I was before. Before, it was more of a hobby. The winner of the four of us is the UFC champion, and becomes a star.”
UFC on FX 2 takes place this Friday night from the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia.