Ian McCall thought he had lost. Demetrious Johnson thought he had won. Neither man, it turns out, was correct.
Not long after their flyweight tournament semifinal concluded with a split decision in Johnson’s favor at UFC on FX 2 on Friday at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia, UFC President Dana White emerged from behind the curtain with some embarrassing news. The Combat Sports Authority of New South Wales claimed a tabulation error resulted in incorrect scores being read for a fight that had, upon further review, ended in a draw.
With that, Johnson and McCall were informed that their business was not finished. The two flyweight standouts will collide to right the wrongs in a rematch, likely this spring, with the winner facing Joseph Benavidez for the inaugural 125-pound championship.
The Johnson-McCall debacle will not go down as one of the finest moments in UFC history, as it stains an otherwise brilliant four-man tournament, places Benavidez in an awkward state of limbo and leaves fans to ponder the drama that might have been in an winner-take-all fourth round between “Mighty Mouse” and “Uncle Creepy.” Perhaps Johnson-McCall 2 will soothe some of those wounds.
In wake of UFC on FX 2 “Alves vs. Kampmann,” here are five other matchups we want to see made:
Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Ellenberger: For the better part of three rounds, Kampmann had no answer for Thiago Alves. Battered by strikes, standing and on the ground, his situation had grown dire. Then, in an instant, he turned the tables on the Brazilian, capitalizing on a mental gaffe to secure a fight-ending guillotine choke. The back-from-the-brink victory thrusts Kampmann back into the heart of a volatile welterweight picture, especially with an April 2009 win over current interim champion Carlos Condit already in his back pocket. Ellenberger cleared a major hurdle at UFC on Fuel TV 1 in February, but he seemed to fade down the stretch and opened the door for his detractors. Pair “The Juggernaut” in a five-round fight with Kampmann and see if he can answer the questions that remain.
Thiago Alves vs. Siyar Bahadurzada-Paulo Thiago loser: Alves squandered a certain win and blew a key opportunity to make a significant move at 170 pounds. How the former title contender recovers from such a damaging defeat could go far in shaping the remainder of his career. As it stands, the 28-year-old American Top Team representative has come up short in four of his past six bouts. Bahadurzada will lock horns with the durable and criminally undervalued Thiago at UFC on Fuel TV 2 next month in Sweden. The loser could fit nicely into the immediate plans for Alves, who has not won back-to-back fights since late 2008.
Yasuhiro Urushitani vs. John Dodson-Darren Uyenoyama loser: Most expected Urushitani to receive a rude welcome to the UFC, and Benavidez made certain he got one. Knocked silly by a counter right hook and polished off by a series of violent ground strikes, the former Shooto champion lasted a little more than a round in his Octagon debut. In fairness, the list of flyweights able to withstand Benavidez’s considerable firepower figures to be short.
Considering his pedigree, global standing and wealth of experience, Urushitani deserves another chance to drop anchor in the UFC. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner Dodson will toe the line against Uyenoyama at UFC on Fox 3 in May, with the winner perhaps emerging as the top contender for the flyweight crown. Let the loser pick a fight with Urushitani.
Constantinos Philippou vs. Ronny Markes: Philippou has come into his own inside the middleweight division. He zapped Court McGee repeatedly with power punches in their 15-minute encounter, halting “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 winner’s streak of eight straight wins. The 185-pound weight class remains top-heavy and shallow, which allows fighters like Philippou to advance more quickly than some might expect. The Serra-Longo Fight Team member will enter his next bout on the strength of a three-fight winning streak. Markes has the look of a serious prospect, and Philippou’s blend of stout boxing and excellent takedown defense could provide the promising 23-year-old Brazilian with a worthy test.
Daniel Pineda vs. Steven Siler: A former two-division Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder, Pineda appears to have left the regional circuits in his dust. He has faced two opponents in the UFC and finished them both inside of one round. His latest victim, WEC import Mackens Semerzier, fell prey to a triangle armbar from the Texan in a little more than two minutes. Pineda, 26, has delivered all 17 of his professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. That alone makes him a valuable commodity. Siler, meanwhile, upset American Top Team’s Cole Miller, as he attacked the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt with power punches, weathered his late third-round surge and captured a unanimous decision. A Pineda-Siler matchup makes plenty of sense.
James Te Huna vs. Thiago Silva: No one shined brighter Down Under than Te Huna. The Australia-based New Zealand native buried Aaron Rosa with his heavy hands and scored the seventh first-round stoppage of his 19-fight career. That freakish punching power makes the 30-year-old Te Huna a person of intrigue at 205 pounds. Silva will meet Igor Pokrajac -- a man Te Huna once victimized -- at UFC on Fuel TV 3 in May. Should he take out the Croatian, a showdown with Te Huna would promise almost certain fireworks.