Although the UFC’s flyweight division hasn’t been alive for too long, it is already being thrust front and center, as was the case this weekend when Demetrious Johnson defended his title for the first time against The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner, John Dodson at UFC on Fox 6 in Chicago, Illinois.
While it was a good fight, it also shined a light on how thin the division currently is.
Dodson is probably second only to Nate Quarry in being a fighter from The Ultimate Fighter reality show who was thrust too quickly into a title fight, and while Dodson did much better than Quarry, truth be told he wasn’t ready for such a fight.
But things are always rocking at the beginning, and now that it is clear that the UFC plans on making sure the spotlight shines on all divisions, it is time to begin stocking up on fighters who can make the 125-pound limit.
There are many reasons why, but the most obvious of them all is simply that the deeper a division is, the more compelling it is, because the fans have more choices as to who they identify with and root for.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, speaks to the heart of growth for the UFC in ways we cannot quantify as of yet, because if you look at the history of combative sport, numerous smaller fighters—many coming from countries outside the United States—have managed to captivate the fans.
And when you consider that countries such as Mexico, Japan, Italy and others have seen some of their “smaller” sons turn into giants upon the world stage of boxing, it becomes clear that a diversified and stacked flyweight division could help kick open the doors to those countries and many others.
When you think about some of the bigger names in boxing over the past 50 years, it is surprising to some to learn just how many of them fought and achieved fame in the featherweight division, which is boxing’s equivalent to the flyweight class.
Men such as Juan Manuel Marquez, “Prince” Naseem Hamed, Alexis Arguello, Marco Antonio Barrera, Manny Pacquiao and countless others fought at the 126-pound limit and put on some incredible fights while becoming large stars in the process.
Add a few more pounds and you can find names like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Julio Cesar Chavez, Diego Corrales, Erik Morales, Oscar de la Hoya and others.
There is an untold number of MMA fighters from other countries who are waiting to be discovered and one of them could be the next Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez in the UFC.
But they need to know there is a place for them and the only way that will happen is if the flyweight division becomes known as a division where great fights are made by great fighters. In order for that to come to pass, the UFC is going to need to start investing heavily down south.