Demetrious Johnson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)UFC 174: How Much of a Draw Will Demetrious Johnson Be on Pay-Per-View? Sal DeRose May 23, 2014 Spotlight Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has been the focal point and the dominant force in the growing UFC flyweight division. With one strong right hand, he dropped Joseph Benavidez and solidified himself as the top man at 125 pounds. Furthermore, the gap between him and the rest of the division became clear. Johnson has been headlining free television cards on Fox and Fox Sports 1 in recent times. Since winning his title, his first three defenses have been on free television, including his second bout with Benavidez and a bout with John Dodson. In that span, Johnson has really taken it to the budding flyweight division—he claimed “Knockout of the Night” in his victory over Benavidez, “Submission of the Night” in his win over John Moraga and “Fight of the Night” for his battle with Dodson. In fact, since his unanimous decision victory over Miguel Torres in his second UFC fight at UFC 130, Johnson has fought on pay-per-view just once. That fight took place at UFC 152, where Johnson edged Benavidez for the inaugural flyweight championship. It wasn’t even the headlining bout, but instead served as the co-main event of a card headlined by light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. That has been it for the flyweight champion—one fight on pay-per-view, none headlining the card. Despite his immense talent and ever-growing skills that make him one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, Johnson, as a flyweight, has struggled to gain the UFC’s trust to carry a pay-per-view card and draw in the same amount of viewers/buys as other champions. Now, though, Johnson is finally getting his first crack at being a draw on a relatively good pay-per-view card. The other featured fight is the welterweight showdown between Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley, which serves as the evening’s co-headliner. Johnson’s fight isn’t really a big sell to the fans, however. Sure, it’s the right move to pair him with Ali Bagautinov, who undoubtedly deserves this opportunity to challenge for the flyweight crown. But, from a pure draw point-of-view, Bagautinov won’t sell pay-per-views or put fans in the seats. It’s not for lack of talent, but rather for lack of name recognition with the fans. That is unfortunate, considering how good the division has been from a talent standpoint. The issue, though, is that the weight class hasn’t been a huge success with the fans, who are more likely to turn up for a heavyweight slugfest than they are for a highly technical flyweight clash. That’s why this headlining spot is huge for “Mighty Mouse.” His recent trend of fighting on free television has aided in building him up, as well as building up this division. If fans don’t tune in, it only goes further toward confirming the lack of interest fans have in the division. In other words, this headlining spot puts Johnson in a make-or-break situation. If UFC 174 doesn’t sell after the amount of effort the UFC has invested in promoting Johnson through fights on free television, where everybody could see him and see how amazing he is as a fighter, then all that build-up did nothing, and nothing can change that. In the short term, that will not do any good for the flyweight division. The division’s fights will continually fall to the preliminary card portion of the lineup, unless it’s a high-profile No. 1 contender’s bout or a title fight. Interest in the flyweight division is really in need of a shot in the arm. These are fights that should attract more attention. The flyweights deserve to be seen, especially since they are the most technical fighters in MMA. You won’t get the same style in heavyweight fights, or even in the next few weight classes down. The 125ers are pure technique and speed. The grappling is always entertaining to watch, and their lightning-quick striking is always a jaw-dropping experience to witness. The small guys simply haven’t had the amount of attention they deserve. They aren’t the big heavyweights that, no matter what, your typical Joe Schmo will want to see. Fans often just want to watch two big dudes bludgeon each other. Flyweights tend not to deliver that type of fight, and therefore fans often glance right over any 125-pound match-ups. Perhaps they should take a second look, though. Flyweights, after all, can be very entertaining to watch, just in different ways.