Ian McCall is headed for the big stage on March 3. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood
Flyweights are officially coming to the Ultimate Fighting Championship on March 3.
UFC President Dana White announced Saturday night at the UFC 140 press conference in Toronto that the promotion will hold a four-man 125-pound title tournament beginning at UFC on FX 2.
The man widely regarded as MMA’s best flyweight, Ian McCall, will make his Octagon debut against former UFC bantamweight contender Demetrious Johnson, while onetime WEC star Joseph Benavidez will lock horns with Shooto 123-pound world champ Yasuhiro Urushitani. The location of the March 3 event is yet to be announced.
The reigning Tachi Palace Fights flyweight titleholder, McCall, 27, has yet to taste defeat since dropping to 125 pounds after an ill-fated bantamweight run in the WEC. “Uncle Creepy” captured the TPF belt on Aug. 5, submitting Darrell Montague via third-round rear-naked choke.
A protégé of Matt Hume at AMC Pankration, 25-year-old Johnson is slated to meet Eddie Wineland on Jan. 28 in what could be the last bantamweight appearance for “Mighty Mouse” in his UFC career. Johnson challenged for the promotion’s 135-pound title on Oct. 1 and fell by unanimous decision to Dominick Cruz.
Benavidez has been perfect through his 17-fight career save for a pair of losses to Cruz under the WEC banner. Since joining the UFC, the 27-year-old has earned a pair of unanimous decision victories, besting Wineland and Ian Loveland in 2011. The Team Alpha Male representative owns eight of his 15 career wins by way of submission.
Urushitani rides a five-fight winning streak into his UFC debut. The 35-year-old twice failed to capture the Shooto 123-pound title before finally snatching the belt from Ryuichi Miki in 2010. Urushitani successfully defended his title for the first time by knocking out Yuki Shojo on July 18.