The year 2012 brought with it the UFC Flyweight Title Tournament, but many fans couldn’t tell you who the competitors were.

Outside of tournament finalists Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, and semi-finalist Ian McCall, the roster is filled with a handful of exciting fighters the MMA fans haven’t seen very much of.

I say handful because as you can tell from the official roster page on the UFC’s website, there aren’t exactly a lot of guys in the division. While there have been some recent signings, the UFC’s official roster only has 11 fighters listed.

With such a small handful of fighters currently in the division, why aren’t fans being exposed to the fast-paced 125-pounders?

To this date, there has yet to be a flyweight bout on the main card of any UFC pay-per-view. If fans want to catch a flyweight clash, they will likely have to dig through some Facebook prelims or hope for a replay on pay-per-view following the main event of the evening.

There’s been one exception so far, and that comes in the form of the fighters who are competing in the tournament. Guys like Johnson, Benavidez, McCall, and Yasuhiro Urushitani have all been featured in main card bouts or headlined free televised cards.

These seem to be the exception when it comes to flyweight exposure, as the rest of the competitors have struggled to find their place in the promotion. With such exciting fights, why is the UFC seemingly hiding their new addition? After all, when the WEC merged into the UFC, the featherweights and bantamweights were met with great intrigue upon their arrival.

Although at first glance it may seem the UFC is burying its lightest weight class, what it is in fact doing is grooming the division to be a pay-per-view draw.

Yes, the promotion could have put a handful of flyweight fights on PPV cards, but it’s hard to sell fans on a product they’ve yet to even see. Would anyone expect the flyweights to take over such premium slots from divisions that have earned their place on the main card at this point? No, fans simply aren’t familiar enough with the fighters or the division in general to invest their hard-earned money.

By putting the flyweights on free television, it allows the UFC’s audience to become integrated with the personalities and fighters in the division. Guys like Johnson and Benavidez were solid bantamweights, but could never manage to stand out on their own in the division. With the flyweights, one, if not both, of these men will be asked to carry the flag for the 125ers as the weight class continues to grow.

They won’t be alone, however, as guys like The Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson, fellow TUF alum Louis Gaudinot and the previously mentioned top flyweight McCall are all quality fighters with colorful personalities. Also, fighters like John Lineker, Tim Elliot and Josh Ferguson are all young prospects who could develop into solid competitors.

While the division is slowly coming together, it seems the UFC is ready to give them a chance to shine with reports of the flyweight title fight between Johnson and Benavidez expected to headline the UFC 152 card in Toronto.

The card’s PPV buys will likely come as a result of the almost guaranteed trash talk between co-main event fighters Brian Stann and Michael Bisping, but at least the two middleweights will draw in enough eyes to give the fantastic flyweights some exposure as well.

Photo: Joseph Benavidez (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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.