SB Nation flyweight rankings: 'Mighty Mouse' the recycler

Esther Lin

The same drive which makes fighters champions also keeps them from being less than enthused about rematches against opponents whom they've already defeated.

The most visible recent example is that of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who made it quite apparent that he wasn't thrilled to square off again with Alexander Gustafsson, a foe he vanquished just last September.

But no UFC champ has the rematch blues these days more than UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Johnson, who was a unanimous No. 1 in this month's SB Nation flyweight rankings, has defeated five of the six fighters ranked directly beneath him: Joseph Benavidez (twice), John Dodson, Ian McCall, Ali Bagautinov, and John Moraga.

This is partially due to Johnson's prolific output: With 12 fights in the past four years, Johnson is Zuffa's most active fighter, so he's tearing through opponents faster than most. It's partially a function of the flyweight division just getting established: The path to a title shot is quicker than in most established weight classes, although that will change as the division matures.

And it's partially a result of flyweight fighters having few realistic options in other classes: While Johnson and Benavidez were good enough to challenge for bantamweight titles, most of them just aren't big enough, and there's no 115 class to drop down to, so the only real answer is the jump back in line.

So, "Mighty Mouse" has become something of a victim of his own excellence. And while there are some interesting, potential fresh challenges a bit down the road -- Zack Makovsky and Brad Pickett come to mind -- for now, a rematch with Dodson, the man who gave Johnson the toughest challenge of his title reign, is the most logical next matchup.

(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. As of this writing, this does not affect any flyweights of note).

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1. Demetrious Johnson (20-2-1, 60 points): 10-1-1 in in his past 12 fights. Six straight wins. Only loss in that span was to a champion a weight class above. Case closed.

2. Joseph Benavidez (20-4, 51 points): With two losses to Johnson, and no plausible move to another division at the moment, Benavidez will have to follow teammate Urijah Faber's model: Just keep winning fights and hope the chips eventually fall his way.

3. John Dodson (16-6, 51 points): Dodson bounced back from giving DJ his toughest challenge with two straight finishes. Maybe Mighty Mouse doesn't want to fight him, but Dodson has the strongest case at the next bout.

4. Ian McCall (12-4-1, 38 points): McCall is 1-2-1 in his last four fights, but a win over Brad Pickett on July 19 is a chance to make a statement he deserves this ranking.

5. Ali Bagautinov (13-3, 37 points): Credit Baguatinov's toughness and conditioning in going 25 minutes with the champ, but he's going to have to find a Plan B if he's going to get a rematch at some point.

6. John Lineker (23-7, 22 points): The sooner Lineker, who constantly has trouble making 126 pounds, bumps up to bantamweight, the better for all concerned.

7. John Moraga (14-3, 19 points): It's hard to be too critical of someone whose only career losses are to Johnson and Dodson, but he's also yet to beat any fighters currently ranked in the Top 10.

8. Zach Makovsky (18-4, 19 points): Wins over veteran Scott Jorgensen and up-and-comer Josh Sampo have led to his biggest challenge to date: Jussier "Formiga" da Silva at UFC 176.

9. Jussier da Silva (16-3, 18 points): Bout with Makovsky is something of a make-or-break in the UFC for the fighter once considered the world's best flyweight: His losses are finishes at the hands of Dodson and Benavidez.

10. Brad Pickett (24-8 7 points): The newly minted flyweight had a victory at bantamweight of DJ on the legendary WEC PPV card in 2010. With a couple wins, he could force a sellable rematch with a backstory.

Votes for others: Tim Elliott 4, Chris Cariaso 3, Justin Scoggins 1.

(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. As of this writing, this does not affect any welterweights of note. Also, since St-Pierre relinquished his title and walked away from the sport without any guarantee of returning, he will be regarded as a retired fighter for rankings purposes and is ineligible).

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