The UFC’s first event of March 2012 will be a historic one, as the organization introduces the 125-pound division with two bouts that will determine the contenders for the UFC’s first-ever flyweight championship.
UFC President Dana White made the announcement at Saturday night’s UFC 140 post-fight press conference.
In the two bouts, which are part of the March 3 UFC on FX card, former number one bantamweight contender Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson battles Ian McCall, and longtime 135-pound standout Joseph Benavidez will also drop to 125 pounds to face Japan’s Yasuhiro Urushitani.
Considered by many to be the best flyweight in the world today, California’s Ian McCall (11-2) has finally found a home at 125 pounds after competing against the best bantamweights in the world for years. A three fight alumnus of the WEC, where he won a stirring TKO over “Ox” Wheeler and went the distance with current 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz, the 27-year old McCall has won four in a row, a nice way to lead into his new career in the Octagon.
A 5-foot-3 ball of energy that has been tearing through the bantamweight division of the WEC and UFC, Demetrious Johnson (14-2) soared to the number one contender’s spot in 2011 with UFC wins over “Kid” Yamamoto and Miguel Angel Torres. And though he lost a tough five rounder against Cruz in his October title fight, the flyweight division allows “Mighty Mouse” to compete on a level playing field against fighters closer to his natural weight.
One of the top bantamweights in the world, Joseph Benavidez (15-2) is now looking to nab UFC gold at 125 pounds. Winner of seven of nine Zuffa bouts (WEC and UFC) with his only losses coming via close decision to Cruz, Benavidez has defeated the likes of Eddie Wineland, Miguel Angel Torres, Rani Yahya, and Jeff Curran. Now he’s got his sights set on taking out the flyweight elite.
A Shooto bantamweight (123 pound) champion, Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6) is currently sporting a five fight winning streak that matches the best he’s had in his 10 year pro MMA career. Owner of wins over recent Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson, Mamoru Yamaguchi, and Daniel Lima, the 35-year old has ended his last two wins by knockout.