SECOND TIME IS THE CHARM FOR “MIGHTY MOUSE”
Styles make fights. I believe that to my core. Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall have styles that mesh perfectly for a close, action-packed bout. If these two fought 20 times, I think one guy would win by a razor-thin margin each time.
Sure, one of the three judges on Friday night scored the bout a shutout for Johnson. But the fight was closer than that. Each round was close. Just like the first time they fought. The only difference was Johnson did a little more this time to ensure victory.
If the pair ever fight again, I wouldn’t be shocked to see McCall edge out a win. These guys are that well suited for each other.
I’m not sure that Johnson matches up as well with Joseph Benavidez, the man he will next face, in the UFC’s inaugural 125-pound championship bout. The difference may come down to wrestling and physical strength. I think Benavidez wins both of those areas by a wide margin. Johnson certainly as the skills to win, but I think he will open as a healthy underdog.
MCCALL SHOULD CAMPAIGN FOR A BOUT WITH URUSHITANI
“Uncle Creepy” lost to Johnson. The judges didn’t get the bout wrong. But it was close nonetheless. It was close enough that it is tough to argue that McCall should fall outside of the UFC 125-pound title picture. Of course, Benavidez and Johnson will fight for the title sometime later this year. But there needs to be someone standing in the wings as the number one contender. I’d like to see McCall and Yashuhiro Urushitani square off to decide that issue.
For those who have forgotten, Urushitani was the guy who Benavidez conquered to earn a shot at the title. But just like with McCall, Urushitani remains one of the very best flyweights in the world. It makes sense – in my mind, at least – to have McCall and Urushitani battle for the next shot at gold, particularly if Benavidez is able to get past Johnson.
SILVA MIGHT BE A RELATIVE UNKNOWN AMONG FANS, BUT HE CERTAINLY ISN’T AMONG FIGHTERS
Erick Silva is one of the best welterweights in the world—period. This guy is a monster. There is no denying that fact. His brutal first round submission win over Charlie Brenneman was a vivid remainder of that notion.
Fans need to remember that, while Silva is only 2-1 in his UFC career, that lone loss was the result of an illegal punch to the back of his opponent’s head. In other words, he wasn’t beaten in that fight. He lost due to his own mistake.
It’s time to put this guy into a marquee matchup. We need to find out if he is really the scary Brazilian monster that I think he is. Any number of names would help determine the answer to that question. The first that comes to mind is Johny Hendricks, a man who is standing close to the door of the current title picture, and banging loudly on that door. I think that would be a spectacular fight. Hendricks is the better wrestler and is probably physically stronger. Silva is the better submission artist and possibly the more technically precise striker. I think that makes for one heck of a matchup.
PYLE MOVES CLOSER
Mike Pyle is a grizzled veteran of the sport. This guy made his debut nearly 13 years ago against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson a couple of weight classes to the north. He lost by decision in a hard-fought fight. He then drew Jon Fitch in his second career fight. He won that one by submission.
That is a crazy journey, if you think about it. He faced two of the best fighters on the planet in his first two bouts, splitting the outcomes. Yet, he wasn’t able to make his way to the UFC until late in 2009. Thus, much like with Erick Silva, Pyle is a relative unknown among casual UFC fans. But he is far from an unknown among fight cognoscenti.
The one thing that he has lacked in his UFC career, however, is a marquee win. Friday’s knockout win over Josh Neer takes him one step closer to that goal. That isn’t to suggest that Neer isn’t a great fighter. He is a tremendously tough guy in terms durability and grit. But he isn’t a top 10 guy. Not at this point, at least.
Still, the way Pyle put away Neer made a statement. It screamed that he, like Silva, is ready for a step up in competition. Unlike with Silva, though, Pyle has had opportunities against top UFC welterweights, and he has yet to come out on top in one of those matchups. Maybe this is his time to step up his game and start to fulfill some of the tremendous promise that he has shown over the course of his career.
WINELAND MUST BE CELEBRATING RIGHT ABOUT NOW
Eddie Wineland’s first two UFC bouts were certainly no walks in the park. Both Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez defeated him by unanimous decision. When UFC matchmaker Joe Silva called to inform him that his third opportunity inside the Octagon would come against Scott Jorgensen, Wineland probably thought that the promotion had it out for him – not literally, just figuratively, because those are three savage beasts. To his credit, Wineland didn’t shrink from the challenge, and this time, he found a way to come out on top in a thrilling back-and-forth war that ended with a spectacular knockout.
The win reaffirms Wineland as a top bantamweight, a status he enjoyed during his WEC days even if his first two UFC bouts left that status in question. Those questions are gone now. I hope Wineland takes a moment to enjoy the victory because when he comes back, I’m quite sure another tough matchup awaits him. The UFC 135-pound division is filled with closely matched fighters.