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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The flyweight division is officially headed to the UFC, and the 125 lb. weight class will be kickstarted with a four-man mini-tournament beginning on March 3 on the UFC’s second event on FX.
UFC veterans Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Joseph Benavidez will be dropping to 125 lbs. to take on Ian McCall and Yasuhiro Urushitani, respectively. UFC President Dana White announced the news at the UFC 140 press conference, and revealed that the winners of those two bouts would square off later in 2012 for the very first UFC Flyweight Championship.
Johnson moves down to the division many have felt he’d be best suited after a failed attempt to capture the UFC’s Bantamweight Title from Dominick Cruz in October. The five round decision was just the second loss of his career, and snapped a four-fight winning streak.
McCall, a former bantamweight whose last loss also came against Dominick Cruz, but in the WEC, has been on a tear as of late, winning four straight fights and capturing the Tachi Palace Fights Flyweight Title in his last bout. The 11-2 fighter suffered his only losses under the Zuffa banner in the WEC, and now returns in his UFC debut.
Benavidez is in a similar situation, as his last – and only – losses came against Cruz. The 15-2 fighter has dropped decisions to Cruz twice, the last time for the WEC Bantamweight Championship, and he’s won three straight fights since then.
Urushitani is the reigning Shooto 123 lb. Champion, and enters the UFC with a 19-4-6 record and a five fight winning streak.
Penick’s Analysis: This is fantastic news, and the divisions coming even a little sooner than I think people may have expected. All four of these fighters are great options for this four man tournament, and whichever fighter wins will make a very good 125 lb. Champion. You can be sure to see an influx of fighters in the UFC’s current bantamweight division dropping down, including several from the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, and it’s going to give many of them an opportunity to be Champion that won’t come with Dominick Cruz on top, as he’s beaten almost every conceivable challenger to date.