When Demetrious Johnson defeated Joseph Benavidez for the inaugural UFC flyweight title at UFC 152, the consensus amongst MMA fans was that the two best 125-pound fighters in the world had just competed inside the Octagon.

The fight between Johnson and Benavidez felt long overdue, but now that it is in the past, the lack of contenders in the UFC’s newest division is a glaring issue for UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby to try to repair.

This Friday’s fight between John Dodson and Jussier “Formiga” da Silva has been called a No. 1 contender bout, despite the fact that the fighters have a combined one win in the UFC’s flyweight division.

This is almost laughable, but sadly enough, the biggest problem facing the flyweight division this week doesn’t involve the admittedly fun fight between Dodson and Formiga.

Kicking off the Fuel TV preliminary card is a flyweight contest between Darren Uyenoyama and UFC newcomer Phil Harris, and due to the lack of depth in the division, the winner of that fight is likely to find himself nearing the title discussion with just a single win in the division.

This isn’t to say that Uyenoyama and Harris aren’t championship-caliber fighters, but the truth is that we have no idea just how good either of these fighters are and neither man should be anywhere near a UFC belt at the moment.

Uyenoyama is a talented fighter, and he proved his grappling game is nothing that should be trifled with when he dominated “Kid” Yamamoto on the mat for the vast majority of their UFC on Fox bout last November.

A win over Harris would be a great way for the grappling specialist to kick off his move to flyweight, but Uyenoyama is still barely on most fans’ radars at this point. To make things worse, if Uyenoyama is barely on their radar, there’s a good chance that most fans have no idea who Phil Harris even is.

The British fighter has a ton of experience, and he’s been flawless in his two flyweight bouts so far, but he’s never won a fight against any sort of notable opponent and isn’t exactly on the verge of being ranked at 125 pounds.

Harris has been in the cage against some tough guys, most notably UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo, but he’s yet to prove he can beat a high-level fighter and a win over Uyenoyama isn’t exactly going to fix that.

In reality, I love this fight between Uyenoyama and Harris, and it’s one of the bouts on the card that I’m really excited to see, but knowing that the winner is going to somehow enter the top ten in the flyweight division is making the fight a little bit harder to enjoy.

If Uyenoyama or Harris gets the win at UFC on FX 5 and goes on to earn a shot at the flyweight strap, that’s fine. But they should actually have to earn it, not be thrown into the mix because the UFC doesn’t have enough fighters to fill out a division.

Photo: Darren Uyenoyama (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.