Another week has past, which means another opportunity to choose the most intriguing and important impending fight of the week.  However, this week was an easy choice.  The first time Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson met, it ended in controversy.  Now they do it again to find out who will fight for the UFC flyweight title.

The first time McCall and Johnson squared off, it was as part of the UFC’s four-man tournament to determine a flyweight champion at UFC on FX 2.  After the Zuffa’s disastrous lightweight tournament ended in a draw back at UFC 41, the promotion implemented rules to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.  In the rare chance the fight ended in a draw, a sudden death fourth round would take place.

The fight was a back-and-forth affair where Johnson looked strong early, but McCall looked stronger at the end.  When the dust settled, the scores were read as a majority decision victory for Johnson.  No need for the fourth round.  McCall was disappointed.  The fans were unhappy.

Shortly after fight, while the event was still going on, word seeped out that the athletic commissioner added the scores incorrectly.  The fight was really a draw and should have gone to the fourth round, but by then it was too late.  Instead of fighting one additional round, McCall and Johnson have to do it all over again.

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another.

Striking: McCall – 6 ; Johnson – 8

McCall is a technically sound striker who will hold a slight reach advantage.  He isn’t a big knockout artist, although he does have four knockout victories.  The last one came back in 2007.  McCall’s striking is made more effective by his threat of wrestling.

Johnson also only has a few knockouts on his record.  He is technically sound as well, but is a little more diverse in his attack.  Despite his size, he has excellent understanding of range and how to stay just outside his opponent’s range until he is ready to strike.  Johnson’s greatest attribute in the striking game, and the one that gives him an edge over McCall, is his speed; he is able to dart in and land shots before his opponent has time to react.

The Clinch: McCall – 7; Johnson – 6

While Johnson does strike well from the clinch with knees and kicks, as well as punches, the clinch is not somewhere he excels.  Being tied up with an opponent counters his speed advantage and is a position Johnson will want to avoid in most fights.

McCall should be stronger in this position.  He will use the clinch as an opportunity to fire away solid strikes, but also as a way to get the fight to the ground.  Although he is unlikely to do serious damage in this position, a takedown could alter the fight.

Wrestling: McCall – 7; Johnson – 6

Johnson was extremely tough to grade on his wrestling.  Throughout his career, he has proven to be fairly easy to take down to the mat.  However, keeping him there is a completely different story.  Even bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz had a hard time keeping Johnson on the ground.  His speed in scrambles is something few fighters are able to counter.

McCall’s wrestling is easier to grade in the sense it is more traditional.  He has extremely strong takedown defense while also possessing decent takedowns in his own right.  In the last fight, he actually showed the best ability at countering Johnson’s speed on the mat that we have seen thus far in Johnson’s career.

Ground Game: McCall – 8; Johnson – 7

McCall will want to get most of his fights to the ground.  He has a great top game that includes both ground-and-pound and submissions.

Johnson knows submissions as well.  He has never been submitted in his career.  And while he does have six submission victories, his last one was in 2010.  Johnson has preferred lately to get the fight back to a standing position where he can work his speed advantage.

X-Factor

Fights are always different the second time around.  If you look back through MMA history, a rematch is never the same.  Even if the same person wins, it doesn’t play out the same way.  These two met just a few months ago.  They have seen each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  They have felt each other’s power and witnessed the speed.  Both fighters will now have specific game plans that will alter how this fight is played out.

Total: McCall – 28; Johnson – 27

Verdict: On paper, McCall has a slight advantage.  But where the fight happens may have the biggest impact on who wins it this time around.

Top Photo: Demetrious Johnson (L) battles Ian McCall in their first meeting at UFC on FX 2 in March (Tracy Lee/Yahoo! Sports)

About The Author

Richard Wilcoxon
Staff Writer

An East Coast native, Richard Wilcoxon grew up a die hard fan of traditional team sports. In the early 1990's, he stumbled onto the sport of MMA and has been hooked ever since. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2005 where he worked to spread his passion for the sport. He eventually became an official staff writer for Sporting News' "The Rumble" MMA/boxing blog before joining The MMA Corner.