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Revisiting Controversy: A Second Look at McCall and Johnson’s First Meeting

When Ian McCall made his UFC debut against Demetrious Johnson, it was the first flyweight bout in the history of the promtion, and it did not end in anything resembling an ideal fashion.

After a high-octane fifteen minutes at UFC on FX 2, referee Leon Roberts stood between both men, holding them at the wrist; each warrior was visibly hoping to have their hand raised in front of the capacity crowd.

After a few tense moments, the judges had rendered a split decision. The voice of the octagon, Bruce Buffer, announced the scores “29-28 McCall, 29-28 Johnson, and 29-28 Johnson”. A clearly frustrated McCall immediately shook off Roberts’ grip and walked out of the cage looking dejected as “Mighty Mouse” jumped for joy. The decision proved to be contentious as the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia audibly jeered, showing their disapproval.

Fast forward to the post-fight press conference, “Uncle Creepy’s” face carried a different look, a snide smile matching his villainous mustache. He knew something we didn’t. Suddenly, UFC President Dana White began to make his announcment “The Demetrious Johnson-Ian McCall fight was not scored properly,” McCall sarcastically threw his hands up at his sides and shrugged his shoulders, that smile still emblazoned on his visage. “The fight was a (majority) draw,” continued White, “the fight was supposed to go to a fourth round.” Ian’s smile got bigger. After an apology from the commission, an immediate rematch between the two was announced.

While the New South Wales Athletic Commission’s incompetence delayed the UFC’s plans of finishing up the tournament that would crown a new flyweight champion, the complaints of the fans sem to be stifled when the word “rematch” were uttered.

While the official question of “who is the better fighter” may not have been answered that night, this Friday’s UFC on FX 3 promises to deliver a true winner. Both men now find themselves in the evening’s main event, with all eyes on the UFC flyweight division.

Before DJ and “Uncle Creepy” meet for a second time in the Bank Atlantic Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we at the Rebellion Media family have chosen to give their first clash a second look with a fresh pair of eyes. What follows is a second play-by-play for the controversial flyweight bout, which was recently made available in it’s entirety on, judged by myself, MMA Frenzy Editor Chris Leslie, and MMA Convert Head Writer Joe Lebeau.

After rendering our final scores, the three of us will explain just how we came to the conclusions we did. In hopes that we can shed some light on the controversy for our loyal readers.

Johnson vs. McCall at UFC on FX 2 Play-By-Play:

Round 1:

Johnson lands a stiff inside leg kick. McCall responds with his own and follows with a punch. McCall clinches and scores an inside trip on “Mighty Mouse”. After some short ground and pound from “Uncle Creepy,” he looks to pass from half-guard to mount, the AMC Pankration product sweeps. McCall wall walks and gets to his feet. Johnson looks to trip, knocking the Californian off balance, but fails to secure any position as McCall returns to his feet. After some circling, the two exchange with McCall getting the better of it. Uncle Creepy then clinches up and sweeps the leg, but Johnson gets back to his feet immediately. DJ looks to work his kicks while the Team Oyama product looks to box. “Mighty Mouse” looks for a single, but fails to turn the corner, he lands a big right that knocks “Creepy” off balance. It’s unclear whether or not McCall is hurt but his facilities all seem intact. Johnson latches onto another single, but he can’t get “The Creepy One” down. The round closes with both men circling, throwing in volume, but failing to connect with anything significant.

  • Jesse Denis: 10-9 McCall
  • Chris Leslie: 10-9 McCall
  • Joe Lebeau: 10-9 McCall

Round 2:

The Second period opens with more of the same from both men. McCall throws a kick which Johnson catches, driving the mustachioed one into the cage. The former bantamweight title challenger releases and opens up with a flurry against the cage. McCall begins to fire back, backing up the Washington native. Johnson fires a high kick at McCall, but it’s blocked, prompting his opponent to come forward. “Creepy” continues to attack the lead leg of Johnson, who is effectively countering with punches. An accidental cup check brings a stop to the action. The AMC Pankration student jumps into the clinch with his opponent, but breaks as McCall begins to fire a knee, DJ exits with a hard punch. After some even striking exchanges, McCall attempts a knee tap, but finds himself against the cage. The action returns to the center of the octagon. Both men trade head kick attempts, neither is successful. The team Oyama product attempts some dirty boxing against the cage, lands an inside trip. Johnson gets back up immediately, pushing him against the cage.

  • Jesse Denis: 10-9 Johnson
  • Chris Leslie: 10-9 Johnson
  • Joe Lebeau: 10-9 Johnson

Round 3:

McCall opens the third stanza by coming out strong with leg kicks. Both men are striking, but rarely connecting clean. The two men trade body kicks. Johnson grabs a clinch and an awkward moment that sees McCall claim a low blow takes place. The referee does not stop the action, prompting Johnson to fire away with a punch. “Creepy” pushes the fight against the cage, when the former bantamweight contender reverses. Both men are in close in the center of the cage as McCall completes a takedown, ending in side control. Johnson regains half guard. The man from Team Oyama chips away with strikes. Johnson rolls and gets to his feet. Reckless striking from smaller fighter allows “Uncle Creepy” to secure a rear-waistlock and complete a belly-to-back suplex. He takes the back of DJ and sinks both hooks in, pounding away. McCall flattens Johnson, unloading on him. “Mighty Mouse” manages to escape the position, but remains turtled up as McCall continues to land. Johnson stands and avoids another suplex. DJ connects with a hard teep, McCall shoots. After a scramble, McCall ends up in the front-headlock position. Another scramble ensues and “Creepy” finds himself in DJ’s half-guard, where he quickly jumps to mount. Now posturing, Ian is reigning down heavy leather on Johnson. The Washington native gives up his back, continually eating shots. McCall is now playing to the crowd, showing his dominance. DJ flops around but can’t escape, the final bell rings with him getting pounded.

  • Jesse Denis: 10-8 McCall (29-27)
  • Chris Leslie: 10-8 McCall (29-27)
  • Joe Lebeau: 10-8 McCall (29-27)

Jesse Denis’ final score – 29-27 Ian McCall:

While the first round was admittedly closest of the fight, I gave a slight edge to “Uncle Creepy,” who I felt landed the more effective strikes. It’s still unclear whether that big punch from Johnson actually hurt Ian, I felt it did little to effect his reaction time, it more than likely knocked him off balance. I gave “Mighty Mouse” the second period, he was able to connect with hard shots often by working his way in and out of range. McCall absolutely dominated the final stanza, making DJ look helpless on a few occasions. Outside of a hard push kick and the punch in that awkward clinch exchange, Johnson offered such a lack of offense, that I felt it was deserving of a 10-8 round, leading to a final score 29-27 for “Creepy”.

Chris Leslie’s final score – 29-27 Ian McCall:

Neither fighter disappointed in this bout as both showed why the flyweights belong in the UFC. As someone who has followed the little guys for a long time, I was very aware of guys that were already forces in the division like Ian McCall. “Uncle Creepy” proved himself, and then some, in this bout.

One thing that stood out to me was how Ian dominated the wrestling in this bout as that’s something that Johnson usually controls. In fact, this was the first bout that Johnson never landed a takedown, something even UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz could not prevent him from doing. Another thing that stood out was how McCall seemed in control of the bout while Johnson had multiple strong moments in each round; it was only in the second round that he had enough of them to put himself over the top and win the round. When I originally scored the bout live, I had it 30-26 McCall, but after a second viewing I gave “Creepy” an extremely slight edge in the first, Johnson the second, and McCall a dominant third.

Joe Lebeau’s final score – 29-27 Ian McCall:

As a Tachi Palace Fights fan, I was familiar with the mythos that surrounded “Uncle Creepy” coming into his UFC debut. It could be said that I was biased, as I predicted McCall to defeat Johnson handily in my preview for the bout.

The first round was very much what I had expected, as although Johnson had some very good moments in the round, McCall controlled the pace of the fight, and did more than enough for me to give him a 10-9 round.

The second round saw Johnson come out a bit more determined, and in what would be the closest round of the bout, Demetrious found himself placing leather on McCall as often as he could. I scored this round for “Mighty Mouse”, though at the time, I flirted with the idea of a 10-10.

The only question in the third round was whether it was a 10-9 or 10-8, and to me, it was the latter. McCall surprised many by outwrestling his foe with ease, and he absolutely dominated Johnson in the final two minutes, nearly finishing the fight, if not for some pandering to the crowd.

Despite my bias, I have watched this fight several times, and each time I have scored it the same, a 29-27 for McCall, in what should have been a resoundingly successful octagon debut for the moustachioed one.

With that, three separate pairs of eyes saw the bout the exact same way. This leaves us with the age-old question in combat sports, “What the hell is wrong with these judges?” We can only hope that when Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson do battle for a second time on Friday night, these egregious errors will be absent at the judges’ table. Given the excitement of their first bout, it’s safe to say both men deserve proper judging in lieu of the shenanigans they were treated to in March.

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