1. Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1)
He hit the deck early, but Demetrious Johnson fought on and kept Ian McCall off of his back this time to earn a unanimous decision win in their anticipated rematch. Still unbeaten as a flyweight, “Mighty Mouse” now awaits Joseph Benavidez later this year, with the honor of being the first UFC flyweight champion on the line.
2. Ian McCall (11-3-1)
Ian McCall was no less spirited in his second go-around with Demetrious Johnson on June 8, but this time, “Uncle Creepy” didn’t have the late surge in him to earn favor with the judges. Fortunately for him, McCall’s skill, excitement and already-soaring popularity should make him a fixture of the UFC’s flyweight division for some time to come.
3. Jussier da Silva (15-1)
Da Silva was let down when a March bout with Darrell Montague failed to materialize. “Formiga” continues to stay as active as he can, however, taking on all comers in either hemisphere. Most recently, the Shooto South America champ stayed within Brazil and recorded a triangle choke win over Argentina’s Martin Coria to stay busy.
4. Joseph Benavidez (16-2)
Joseph Benavidez expected to leave Sydney, Australia, in March knowing who he would face for the first UFC flyweight crown. It took three months longer to set up than expected, but with Demetrious Johnson’s June 8 victory over Ian McCall, a Benavidez-Johnson bout could prove to be one of 2012’s most exciting fights.
5. Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-5-6)
Shooto’s former 123-pound ace was dealt the first knockout loss of his lengthy career on March 3, falling in his UFC debut to former bantamweight contender Joseph Benavidez. The defeat snapped a five-fight winning streak which had seen Urushitani defeat Pancrase champ Kiyotaka Shimizu, Yuki Shojo and Ryuichi Miki.
6. Darrell Montague (10-2)
California’s “Mongoose” was in fine form on May 10, when he victimized Taylor McCorriston with a crushing first-round TKO at Tachi Palace Fights 13. It was the second win in as many weeks for Montague, who has looked vicious since dropping his TPF title to Ian McCall last August.
7. Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3)
The afro’d one hasn’t seen MMA action since his Aug. decision loss to Jussier da Silva, but Yamaguchi hasn’t been totally inactive. In mid-April, the 35-year-old came up short in a Shootboxing bout against SB featherweight champ Naguranchan Masa M16, evening the pair’s series at 1-1.
8. John Dodson (13-5)
After winning the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” at 135 pounds, Dodson has dropped back down to his natural division. His flyweight return saw “The Magician” pull out a tough decision against late replacement Tim Elliott, but Dodson paid for the win with a broken left hand.
9. Louis Gaudinot (6-2)
For five minutes on May 5, it seemed Gaudinot might wind up the latest victim on the lengthy winning streak of UFC newcomer John Lineker. The green-haired gremlin threw a wrench in the works during round two, however, choking the Brazilian cold with a guillotine that closed the “Fight of the Night” at UFC on Fox 3.
10. Nam Jin Jo (6-5)
Since making his debut as a 14-year-old teenager, South Korean Nam Jin Jo has always had it tough. After recording the biggest win of his career by taking out former Shooto world champion Shinichi Kojima in Shooto in March, Jo returned to the 135-pound division for One FC on Taiyo Nakahara on June 16. However, the South Korean upstart dropped a questionable split decision and has been unable to establish any real momentum after his breakthrough win.