Expanding the UFC’s Flyweight Division: Ten 125-pounders the UFC Needs Brian McKenna May 19, 2012 News Late last year, the UFC announced that they would be adding an eighth weight class to the promotion. This announcement came not too long after Zuffa absorbed the WEC into the UFC and brought along the featherweights and bantamweights. The eighth weight class would make it so that the fighters got even lighter as it was announced that the flyweights would be coming to town. Immediately, it was anticipated that Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson would shed the additional ten pounds to make it to 125, but to state the obvious, you need depth to be able to add a weight class. The UFC quickly went out and grabbed Tachi Palace Fighting flyweight champion Ian McCall and signed Yasuhiro Urushitani. As we know, these four fighters were the participants for the inaugural flyweight tournament back in March. But as the tournament is rounding itself out, who is around to contend for the title? It was expected that Benavidez and Johnson would not be the only fighters from the Zuffa roster to bump down to flyweight. Two of the bantamweights on last season’s The Ultimate Fighter—Louis Gaudinot and TUF winner John Dodson—have already dropped to flyweight. The promotion signed John Lineker and Tim Elliott, who both fought earlier this month and lost to Gaudinot and Dodson, respectively. But other than waiting around for more fighters to drop to flyweight, the UFC needs to build the weight class from the outside. Here is a list of six more 125-pounders whom the UFC needs to ink a deal with: Jussier “Formiga” da Silva, 13-1 Da Silva (R) (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog) A product of Brazil, Jussier da Silva is widely considered as one of the best fighters not fighting in the UFC. He has fought several times with Tachi Palace Fighting, and it is inside their cage that he has suffered his one and only career loss. That loss was a decision against Ian McCall, and all things considered, it is a worthy opponent to have loss against. “Formiga” won by submission in each of his last three fights, slapping a triangle choke on in one, with rear-naked chokes in the other two. The fact that da Silva has fought with four different promotions in his last four fights leads me to believe that he should be on the market, and I guarantee you that the UFC would love to have him. Darrell Montague, 11-2 Montague (L) (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog) Last week, Darrell Montague needed just under three minutes to dispatch of Taylor McCorristion at Tachi Palace Fights 13. While McCorristion wasn’t the stiffest competition out there, it was good to see Montague make easy work of him, as was expected. Like da Silva, the losses on his record are by no means a setback as his first career loss came from featherweight Robbie Peralta and his second came from McCall. “The Mongoose” has an impressive record, but what stands out is how he has spread out the methods in which he has been victorious. With five wins by knockout, four by submission, and two decisions, the 24-year-old has proven that he is willing and ready to take the fight no matter where it goes. Mamoru Yamaguchi, 26-6 Yamaguchi (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog) Mamoru Yamagachi had won six straight fights before he dropped his last fight to Jussier da Silva by decision. A lot of people say that flyweights lack power and are incapable of knocking one another out, but those people haven’t watched Yamaguchi fight. The 34-year-old has 10 knockouts in his career, which is more than UFC Hall of Famers Mark Coleman, Ken Shamrock and Randy Couture. Additionally, he has never been knocked out in his career, having only fallen by submission or decision. The Japanese fighter has been fighting since all the way back in 1999 with Shooto, which is where most of his career fights have taken place. It hasn’t been until recently that he branched out of Japan and fought in American promotions such as King of the Cage and Tachi Palace Fights. Hopefully, that could be the segue that gets Yamaguchi into the UFC. Ulysses Gomez, 9-2 Gomez (Dave Mandel/Sherdog) Back in 2010, Ulysses Gomez captured the inaugural Tachi Palace Fights flyweight championship. From there, he went on to fight at bantamweight in Bellator’s season-three tournament. He won his first fight, but was unable to continue onto the semifinals due to a staph infection. He failed in his attempt to defend his TPF title against Darrell Montague, but bounced back nicely by moving back up to bantamweight and capturing the promotion’s 135-pound title in December. Sure, it sounds as if he is a bantamweight based on the breakdown so far, but the kid is capable of making noise in both divisions. Because currently the UFC bantamweight division is starting to get clogged, an entry into the promotion’s flyweight division would put him in a better position as far as ranking is concerned. The one knock on Gomez, however, is that his striking isn’t up to par, but if that is going to be your point of criticism, having nine submission victories like he does is a good way to counter poor striking. Dustin Ortiz, 8-2 Ortiz (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog) Don’t be fooled by the fact that Dustin Ortiz is 1-2 in his last three fights, because anyone who is that quick to judge him would fail to recognize how he started his career 7-0. While five of those first seven fights came in a local Tennessee promotion, two came with Strikeforce which gives him more credibility. That brings us back to the recent 1-2 record. He suffered his first career loss to Ian McCall by decision, and his other loss came via split decision. While he has four victories by knockout and four by submission, the only thing lacking for Ortiz is a big name victory. It may be a little bit of time before we see the UFC logo on his gloves due to that split decision loss posted earlier this month, but hopefully the people at Zuffa have their eye on him. Jose Maria Tome, 29-3 (2) If you take two no-contests out of the mix, Jose Maria Tome has won 15 straight fights. The streak came after a 2008 loss against fellow Brazilian Jussier da Silva. The 30-year-old has arguably the most impressive record of any of the flyweights on the list so far, but what really stands out is that of the 29 victories, he has earned stoppages in 24. The flyweights are one of the more exciting weight classes to watch because of the speed and quickness that comes out of the fighters, but ultimately what fans want to see are fighters who finish. If the UFC were to sign Tome, they would be sure to add not only more speed and quickness to the division, but more finishes. Now lets take a look at guys who may not be as noteworthy, but would definitely solidify the 125-pound roster: Sean Santella, 10-3 The American has two victories already in 2012, both by submission. That puts his tally at eight career submission victories. Haruo Ochi, 9-2 Like Santella, the 28-year-old Japanese fighter also has two victories in 2012. Not only that, he hasn’t lost since early 2010 and has won five straight fights in the meantime. Shinichi “BJ” Kojima, 15-5-5 The five draws on the record of “BJ” stand out, but it makes sense when you learn that he has spent most of his time fighting in Shooto. Kojima has a 2-0-1 record against Yamaguchi and also has two ties against Urushitani, which not only gives him a lot of credibility but it really makes him an extremely desirable free agent. Nam Jin Jo, 6-4 Don’t let his record fool you, because the four losses have come to fighters who have combined for a record of 40-14. Considering he has never been submitted or knocked out, you know that “Crazy” has no problem giving his opponent as much as he can. Not only that, but Jo has a lot of momentum behind him after he took a decision from Shinichi Kojima in March. Top Photo: Jussier da Silva (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog) Pote MMA world needs to take a look at 2-0 Matthew SMG Lozano. 5-2 as an ammy.(both loses at 135 and 1 of them loses was not clear) Has fought 4 pro rules fights in Va. as an ammy and won all. Due to fight on October 19th. Won last fight with a KO, by knee to the face. All fights won have been in rd. 1 by sub or KO. Won with a GoGoplata early in 2011. Keep your eyes open.