John Dodson is hopefully on his way back to action soon. The number one ranked flyweight in the UFC has been out with injury, a torn ACL — an injury that plagues many top-tier MMA fighters (and athletes, in general). Yet while he has been gone from the octagon, he hasn’t been far from the thoughts of fans, who feel he brings a much-needed spark to the flyweight division.

The argument goes something like this: Demetrious Johnson isn’t a controversial figure like Jon Jones; he’s not an All-American sort of guy who owns the role like Chris Weidman, he’s not a guy who entertains on the mic like a Sonnen or McGregor. He simply goes out and wins. And wins. And wins. The only flyweight champion in UFC history, Johnson hasn’t met a challenge he can’t overcome. Which for some, appears to be an issue. He’s too ordinary, too low key.

Right. A guy who hasn’t lost at 125lbs in the UFC, who has five title defences, comes off as not flashy enough for some fans.

What Johnson has, and the flyweight division in general, is an image crisis.

Maybe they just need a better publicist.

Here’s the rub: The marketing of the flyweight division thus far has been all about their speed. They’re fast. Blink and you’ll miss the action. Look at the pace they keep! That’s great for students of the game and the hardcore fanbase, but for the general public, the casual fans, well lets face it: they’ve shown they don’t care. Yet the focus on speed has overlooked the many other strengths of the division, which includes, believe it or not, strength. In the sense of finishing fights.

Take Dodson, one of the brightest stars to come out of The Ultimate Fighter in years; the man who beat current UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw at the TUF 14 finale. Who finished him. And finished four opponents in his last five wins (with a loss to Johnson, he’s 6-1 overall in that stretch), all by KO/TKO. The naysayers of the flyweight division aren’t wrong about him bringing a spark — it’s just that he’s an added attraction, a compliment to an already exciting field of fighters.

Or take John Lineker, whose last four wins in the UFC have all come by way of TKO. He meets the ever-popular Uncle Creepy, Ian McCall, at UFC 183, and with a strong win, he may be facing Mighty Mouse in the next flyweight title fight.

This is something the UFC needs to put the focus on. The flyweights hit harder than you think. They do finish fights. They do knock guys out.

Thus far, flyweight title fights have often been placed on FOX cards, with the going theory being that they simply don’t draw enough to headline PPVs. That theory was proven at least partially correct last May with UFC 174, headlined by Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov, which was a disaster as far as buyrate goes, by all reports barely surpassing the 100,000 buy mark. Just months later, UFC 178, with Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso headlining, performed slightly better, but it had a huge boost thanks to the presence of Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor.

Now imagine if the focus was more on the possibility of an exciting finish. Johnson himself has three finishes in five title defences, and while two are submissions, the end result is the same: he’s finishing top challengers. While there will always be those who avoid the lighter weight classes simply because they’re lighter, the combination of the right challenger, and a better approach to selling the fight, could make the division much more relevant in the eyes of the fans.

For now, it remains one of the most sadly overlooked divisions in the UFC, but on the flip-side, one of its best-kept secrets.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.