Ian McCall has a new challenger for his Tachi Palace Fights title and flyweight supremacy. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood
1. Ian McCall (11-2)
McCall was spectacular on Aug. 5, wresting the Tachi Palace Fights title from Darrell Montague with a third-round rear-naked choke. The man called “Uncle Creepy” was slated to defend against UFC vet Will Campuzano, but injury has changed McCall’s Dec. 2 opponent to Midwestern standout Josh Rave.
2. Jussier da Silva (13-1)
In his Oct. 29 defense of the Shooto South America 123-pound title, Formiga was able to do to Michael William Costa that which he hadn’t done in nearly three years: finish. Escaping unscathed from the second-round rear-naked choke victory, da Silva now turns his attention toward a Dec. 15 date with unbeaten prospect Rodrigo “Indio” Santos in da Silva’s hometown of Natal, Brazil.
3. Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6)
On July 18, Urushitani laid waste to former tormentor Yuki Shojo, as the Shooto world champion scored a brutal head kick knockout. The next move for Urushitani, however, remains unclear in the continuously changing flyweight landscape.
4. Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3)
The 34-year-old flyweight star suffered a hit on Aug. 5, as he lost a sound unanimous decision to Brazilian standout Jussier da Silva. Fortunately for Yamaguchi, his fan-friendly nature and action-packed style will continue to secure him fights on both sides of the Pacific.
5. Darrell Montague (9-2)
Montague started fast in his first Tachi Palace Fights flyweight title defense, but he could not stand up to the pressure of challenger Ian McCall. Montague was forced to tap in the second frame, but the talented and dynamic 23-year-old still figures to play a formative role in the flyweight division going forward.
6. Shinichi "B.J." Kojima (11-4-5)
The former ruler of the 125-pound roost has gone straight back to work since returning from his two-year layoff in August, earning two wins inside three months. Kojima’s most recent trip to the ring saw him earn a lackluster Nov. 5 unanimous decision over reigning super-flyweight King of Pancrase Kiyotaka Shimizu.
7. Yuki Shojo (11-6-2)
Shojo got his chance at the Shooto world title, but he could not replicate his 2008 victory over Yasuhiro Urushitani. This time around, the Shooto world champion knocked Shojo flat with a crushing head kick, sending him to the figurative back of the line in Shooto's 123-pound division.
8. Kiyotaka Shimizu (10-5-2)
With a 9-1-1 record since 2009, Shimizu has quietly made a name for himself as one of Japan’s strongest and toughest 125-pounders. The reigning super flyweight King of Pancrase will head to the ring of Shooto once again on Nov. 5 for a showdown with former flyweight top-ranker “B.J,” Kojima.
9. John Dodson (11-5)
Dodson is one of the slickest, most physically gifted fighters in MMA. However, like divisional compatriots Alexis Vila and Louis Gaudinot, he is currently focused on challenges at 135 pounds: The Greg Jackson-trained “Magician” is currently competing as a bantamweight on the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
10. Louis Gaudinot (5-1)
Currently showing his wares as a bantamweight on the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the green-haired Tiger Schulmann student has made his mark in the cage at 125 pounds. Gaudinot has not fought an official contest since September 2010, when he submitted Jessie Riggleman to win the vacant Ring of Combat flyweight strap.
Other contenders: Fumihiro Kitahara, Jose Maria Tome, Alexandre Pantoja, Mitsuhisa Sunabe, Ryosuke Tanuma.