Demetrious Johnson, Erick Silva Big Winners at UFC on FX 3
Last weekend in Sunrise, Florida, the flyweight tournament progressed to the final stage, as Demetrius Johnson bested Ian McCall in the main event of UFC on FX 3. After the glitch in Sydney where “Mighty Mouse” and “Uncle Creepy’s” first go around mistakenly resulted in a draw, Friday night’s throw down came down to the judge’s cards where Johnson got the unanimous decision victory. He will now go on to face fellow finalist Joseph Benavidez for the inaugural flyweight crown later this year.
In addition to the 125 pound action, there were plenty of standout performances throughout the evening. Veterans Mike Pyle and Eddie Wineland rose to the occasion to finish their respective opponents and highly touted Brazilian welterweight Erik Silva made a statement of his own by finishing the scrappy Charlie Brenneman.
The preliminary card may have produced a few sleepers, but when the main card action got underway, the fireworks began. Let’s take a look at some of the chatting points of the bouts.
After his hand was raised in the first fight with McCall, Johnson believed he was well on his way to a showdown with Benevidez. But after the commission came forward to announce there had been a scoring error and the fight should have actually gone to a “sudden death” round, Johnson had a decision to make. With a wedding date set, the UFC gave Johnson the option to sit on the sidelines and fight the winner of Benevidez vs. McCall. But feeling he had unfinished business, Johnson agreed to another go around with McCall.
Much like the first fight, Johnson came out with a strong first round. His hand speed and footwork made the difference in the early going as he stung McCall with clean shots at will. Johnson landed the biggest punch of the fight in the first as he caught McCall flush with a right hand as he was pursued around the cage. The punch dropped McCall, but the former Tachi Palace champion quickly recovered and bounced back to have a strong second round.
The action was even going into the final frame - where Johnson wilted in their first meeting. This time it was the exact opposite. Johnson turned up his output and effectively stuffed McCall’s takedown attempts to win the third round and drive home the victory. When the judge’s cards were read, it was Johnson’s hand raised and this time he won’t have to worry about scoring errors.
The victory means Johnson will lock up with Joseph Benavidez later this year. While both were considered top bantamweights when they competed in the division, championship gold eluded them. While Johnson had a speed advantage against McCall, he won’t have that edge against Benavidez. The Team Alpha Male fighter will be able to match Johnson’s speed and will have the upper hand in the strength department in the match up. Defeating Benavidez will be a tough task and Johnson will have to rely on his footwork and savvy if he hopes to be the division’s inaugural champion.
Before the tournament got underway, McCall was credited as the top flyweight fighter in the world. While the label will now fall by the wayside, McCall has nothing to hang his head about. He fought six action packed rounds against Johnson and while he may find himself temporarily in the loss column, his introduction to the UFC fan base was an exciting one.
In the second fight with Johnson, he battled back from a rough start in the opening round to even things up in the second. McCall was able to use his wrestling to put Johnson on the canvas three times in the middle frame and while he wasn’t able to keep him there, the threat was enough to throw Johnson off his game for a bit. Unfortunately for McCall, he wasn’t able to repeat the success he had in the final round of their first meeting. Despite his efforts to push Johnson into making mistakes, McCall took more than he gave in the final round and it cost him the fight.
With the weight class still being formed, it is tough to tell who McCall will get for his next fight. Depending on who the organization signs and which bantamweight fighters decide to drop down, McCall will ultimately have to wait to see how things shape up. An easy booking would be to match McCall up with Yasuhiro Urushitani, who lost to Benavidez in the tournament’s opening round.
In the sport of MMA, hype is always put to the test. Surging Brazilian Erik Silva answered the call with flying colors as he made short work of Charlie Brenneman in the night’s co-main event. Having already displayed devastating striking it seemed as if his ability to handle an opponent with solid wrestling was the biggest
question left on the table for Silva. While Brenneman came after him from the opening bell, Silva was able to neutralize “The Spaniard’s” take down attempts until he eventually sunk in a rear naked choke which brought the fight to a close.
The victory over Brenneman will not launch Silva into the division’s upper tier but it was a solid showing that will produce larger named opponents. Being only three fights into the UFC, it will be interesting to see how the organization decides to bring him along. A fight with a savvy veteran Mike Pyle would make sense but if I was booking the next outing, I would match Silva up with the always exciting Diego Sanchez.
Before I go any further, I believe it’s only right to give Mike Pyle’s mullet its proper due. It is not an easy hair style to rock but Pyle wears it with the confidence of a guy who never cared about school pictures. As the saying goes, “its business in front party in the back,” and Friday night Pyle was all business against Josh Neer.
Throughout his career, Pyle has built his name off a slick ground game. He has never been known to have put-away power but against Neer, his striking looked on point. Pyle scored in their early exchanges and looked extremely comfortable on his feet. When it looked like Neer was turning up the heat, Pyle reached into his arsenal and landed a straight right hand which put Neer face down on the canvas. Always the gentleman, Pyle held onto an extra shot as he saw his opponent was finished. The victory makes it back to back wins for Pyle as he continues to hold his own in the crowded welterweight division.
Before running into rising star Rory MacDonald, Pyle was starting to gather the type of momentum which would produce contender talk. Since the loss to the young Canadian, Pyle has bounced back strong with two consecutive finishes. At 36 years old he won’t be looking to slow things down. Depending on how things shake out, I could see him being matched up with a Top 10 opponent the likes of Jon Fitch or facing another rising star in Erik Silva.
Since coming over to the UFC, Wineland has traveled some rough roads. After suffering back to back lopsided defeats to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, the Indiana native got things back on track in a big way against Scott Jorgensen. Wineland was able to keep Jorgensen on the ropes throughout the entire fight with his accuracy and power until he eventually scored the knockout victory in the middle of the second round. In doing so, he became the first person in six years to finish “Young Guns” and made statement which should echo throughout the bantamweight division.
Although Wineland looked great against Jorgensen, he won’t find himself amongst the divisional elite just yet. With champion Dominick Cruz on the sidelines, the UFC has created an Interim title which Urijah Faber and Renan Barao will decide next month. Brad Pickett would make sense for Wineland’s next opponent or if the UFC wanted to push the card; a match up with Michael McDonald could be set up.
There is no doubt the undercard failed to bring the noise, but Tim Means did his best to shake things up. After seeing his life go down the wrong path, Means turned to fighting and it was a decision which has made all the difference. He has looked sharp in both outings under the UFC banner and he put a nasty beating on Justin Salas Friday night. The victory let the world know Means is legit and he is someone to keep an eye on as he makes his way through the 155 pound division.
To round out the rest of the action, Matt Grice scored a huge victory over Leonard Garcia and Mike Pierce put on one of his signature grinding performances to best Carlos Eduardo Rocha.
- Relive all the action with our UFC on FX fight night photo gallery