Joseph “Joe B-Wan Kenobi” Benavidez (16-3-0) vs. Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall (11-3-1)
These were the two favorites heading into the UFC’s first ever flyweight tournament, but Demetrious Johnson had other plans. Both lost and now they are on the path back toward the title. A lot of people think this is a number-one contenders bout, but at less than a year removed from their fights with Johnson, it is a hard sell to make. Plus, if they lose again, they may not see a title shot for a long time. The winner of this is going to be in the mix, but unless they win impressively, they may need to fight again.
Benavidez really holds the advantage on the ground, and his knockout win over Yasuhiro Urushitani may have been the worst thing to happen to him. He professed after the match that he was set on proving lighter weight fighters have knockout power, but with half his wins coming by submission, he needs to get back to that mentality. Just in his WEC career alone he submitted two black belts, and McCall has been submitted, which is something Benvidez should shoot for in this match.
It remains to be seen who has the better wresting out of McCall and Benavidez, but McCall was able to stymie Johnson’s takedowns in their first match. If McCall can keep this standing, he has a chance to take this fight. He can use his speed and combinations to frustrate Benavidez and tire him out. Like most fighters from Team Alpha Male, Benavidez lacks fluidity in his stand-up, but that could change since Duane Ludwig is their new coach. Ludwig’s experience and coaching could elevate Benavidez’s stand-up game in this fight.
The Bottom Line:
McCall can win this fight, but Benavidez will take it. He will keep it competitive enough on the feet, and he will secure a takedown or two each round to win. Benavidez wins by unanimous decision.