In just a few short months, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight division will more than likely come to an end after nearly seven years. Division “G.O.A.T.” Demetrious Johnson has already been traded to ONE FC in exchange for Ben Askren, half the division has been bumped up to Bantamweight, and the other half has been cut.
It’s a damn shame … regardless of how company President Dana White attempts to spin it.
Flyweights get a massive amount of heat for being “small,” despite being the same size as a boxing Featherweight. They get heat for being “boring,” despite giving us the likes of Ben Nguyen, Tim Elliott, and arguably one of the organization’s most entertaining fighters in Deiveson Figueiredo. Are there bad Flyweight fights and bad Flyweight fighters? Of course, but look at the rest of UFC — the Light Heavyweight division is a graveyard outside the Top 5, women’s Bantamweight is dead in the water, and 90 percent of Heavyweight fights are a coin flip between stunning early finishes and two extremely large, extremely out-of-breath men wheezing circles around each other for 15 minutes.
And Lord knows the 125-pound division didn’t get half the push those did. For the first half of the year, there wasn’t a single non-title Flyweight bout on a UFC main card. UFC bemoaned the lack of interest in Demetrious Johnson’s title defenses despite putting no effort toward promoting his opposition while they were working their way through the ranks.
“People don’t care about small fighters” doesn’t hold water when HBO’s Superfly series, which pitted elite 115-pound boxers against each other, did great numbers. Or when the World Boxing Super Series’ Bantamweight (118-pound) tournament is doing similarly well, helmed by one of the greatest knockout artists alive in Naoya Inoue.
In the past, I’ve “given thanks” for specific fights and fighters. This time, though, I want to show my appreciation for both the UFC Flyweights — who busted their asses with no support whatsoever — and the up-and-coming 125-pounders on the regional and international scenes who just saw their dreams crushed on a whim.
Godspeed, you quick little bastards. Thank you for doing what you do.