The UFC’s flyweight division has a freshly minted champion in Demetrious Johnson and now a defined No. 1 contender in John Dodson. Outside of that however, the division is wide open.

It’s a big contrast from what UFC fans are used to seeing from the established divisions in the promotion. Many of the divisions have dominant champions like Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. Johnson was dominant in his title bout against Joseph Benavidez, but it’s hard to predict that he will rule over the competition for years to come.

That leaves quite the void for UFC fighters to fill in the waiting line for the UFC title. Guys like Ian McCall, Jussier “Formiga” da Silva, and Benavidez all have the opportunity to shoot up the rankings (or in Benavidez’s case, gain another crack at “Mighty Mouse”).

With all the opportunities available, competition has been fierce between the UFC flyweights. It’s typically a long and difficult journey to get to the top of the UFC leaderboards. Yet, the flyweights have the opportunity to achieve that goal within a small time frame.

Of course, with a strong sense of competition evident, the fights have been very entertaining thus far. Johnson and McCall engaged in some of the most action-packed bouts of 2012 earlier this year.

But the UFC doesn’t seem ready to jump on board the bandwagon.

Many of the UFC flyweight bouts have been nothing more than low-card filler, with even the UFC flyweight title fight holding a co-main event slot rather than headlining an event. Even UFC fighters like Michael Bisping have called into question the legitimacy of the 125-pound weight class.

“In my opinion, and I think in most people’s, this is the main event. This is the real main event. Two big hard hitting guys. No one cares about little flyweights, this is the real main event, this is the real big fight…,” Bisping said in an interview with MMA Weekly.

That quote represents the struggle many of the lighter weight classes have experienced since the WEC merger, but it appears to be even more of an issue for the flyweights. The hardcore fans seem to be loving the match-ups, but the division hasn’t gained that much popularity.

Is the UFC to blame for the faltering support from fans due to the match placement?

The answer is both yes and no.

Yes, it is partly the UFC’s fault for not giving the division enough exposure on pay-per-view cards and TV events. Fans aren’t going to know who these guys are if they’re never on television. The fights have been entertaining for the most part, but they’ve mostly been on undercards and behind the pecking order of the more established divisions. However, the UFC’s matchmaking process isn’t completely at fault. Part of the blame has to go to Johnson and Benavidez.

When the two clashed with one another, fans were anticipating a quick, action-packed fight that would go down to the wire. Johnson had always been an exciting fighter at bantamweight and had finally found his niche in MMA. Benavidez has always been known as a strong grappler and showed his killer instinct against Yasuhiro Urushitani back in March.

The fight between Johnson and Benavidez would be anything but action-packed, however. Johnson used his footwork and speed to evade Benavidez’s strikes and wound up with the decision victory. It was a fight that split the MMA fan base, with some fans praising the technicality of the fight, whereas others claimed it was boring to watch.

This was the one opportunity for the flyweights to prove their worth compared to the established divisions and they failed miserably. The fight had a few moments of excitement, but a few moments in a 25-minute fight won’t be enough to build on.

Even the No. 1 contender, Dodson, struggled to put on an exciting fight up until he was able to knock out his Brazilian foe, Formiga.

The UFC has shown a willingness to back lighter weights if the fights are exciting enough. The lower portion of the flyweight division has done its part by putting on some great displays of MMA, but now it’s up to the top guys to put on an exciting show when given the opportunity.

Photo: Demetrious Johnson (R) outlasted Joseph Benavidez en route to the flyweight title (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.