A little while back, we offered up a piece suggesting that Ian McCall might be the next best option at flyweight for reigning champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

We haven’t exactly strayed from that line of thinking, but even if McCall wins his upcoming fight with John Lineker, Mighty Mouse is going to be a tough mountain to climb for “Uncle Creepy.” McCall, after all, has faced Johnson twice in the UFC, fighting to a draw once and coming up short in their rematch, losing by decision. Popular and marketable, however, McCall is a shoe-in for a title shot should he get past Lineker. For his part, should his weight troubles be a thing of the past, Lineker could be slotted in for a shot at Johnson as well, though he suffered a setback due to a February loss to Ali Bagautinov.

Still, the pool of contenders at 125lbs is thin. How thin? Heading into their fight at UFC 178, challenger Chris Cariaso was ranked 9th (he later climbed to 8th in a rankings update) in the division. Really, how often does a fighter who has barely cracked the top ten get a title shot?

There is one name we haven’t mentioned yet, and that’s John Dodson. Dodson has picked up two wins since a January 2013 title fight loss to Johnson, and “The Magician” is the other flyweight who could give Mighty Mouse trouble — but he’s currently out due to injury.

Given that McCall and Lineker are squaring off at UFC Fight Night 56 in November, one of them will head to the back of the line. In essence, Johnson has two worthy opponents waiting for him, and after that, the only fighters in the top ten Johnson hasn’t already defeated are Tim Elliot and Zack Makovsky, both coming off losses, and Jussier Formiga, on a two fight win streak, but looking eerily similar to Cariaso as an easy out for Mighty Mouse. Formiga has lost to both Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson, and while “MMA math” doesn’t really work, there has been no sign that Formiga can offer anything against Johnson that he hasn’t seen and overcome before.

The end result of all of this is a dominant champion in a thin division, and the dilemma is: to rule the roost at flyweight for at least a few more years, barring an upset by McCall or Dodson, waiting for a legit threat to emerge from the relatively small pool of fighters in the division — or to head back up to bantamweight for something of superfight.

It’s tempting. Demetrious Johnson’s last loss came against Dominick Cruz two years ago for the bantamweight title. After that, the flyweight division was created, Johnson dropped down, and hasn’t lost since (the closest he has come has been the draw with McCall in the tournament to crown the inaugural flyweight champ, that Johnson went on to win). However, with bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw having only one title defence to his name thus far, and with the successful return of Dominick Cruz at UFC 178 as well, is Johnson at bantamweight something the UFC is interested in?

Back in December, Johnson told Sherdog Radio that while he’d entertain the idea of a superfight at bantamweight, “I need to dominate and clean out the entire division and then I can start thinking about going up to 135.” Well, that was a couple of successful title fights ago. The MMA landscape changes pretty quickly, and with just one or two more wins (keeping in mind that the best two options for Johnson at the moment, McCall and Dodson, are fighters he has already beat), he will have done just that: cleared out the flyweight division, or at least the upper echelons of it.

Should he make the jump? That’s a tough one. It would eliminate one of the few real stars flyweight has (Dodson, McCall, and Joseph Benavidez being the others, and arguably Scott Jorgensen, who only recently made the cut down). Beyond that, while Johnson was successful at bantamweight in the past, he really is best suited to the flyweight division. Going up should be used only as a last resort — but with a dearth of challengers at flyweight, it may soon be time to go that route.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.