It isn’t every day that someone makes a big splash in their UFC debut and beats their heavily favored opponent. Darren Uyenoyama didn’t get that memo.

In his first UFC fight, Uyenoyama defeated Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and became the straw that broke the camel’s back, sending Yamamoto further down the ladder and one more loss away from retirement.

Uyenoyama gets another huge opportunity when he steps in to face top flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez. That’s another big name, and a big win that could effectively pole vault Uyenoyama into title contention discussions.

In the newly created flyweight division, a couple of wins could earn a fighter a title shot. For Uyenoyama, that could be the case considering that in his last fight—his flyweight debut—he submitted Phil Harris.

Benavidez is no pushover, but on the ground Uyenoyama can be the guy to beat Benavidez. Uyenoyama has an explosive jiu-jitsu game that includes a plethora of choke finishes. So far, Uyenoyama has notched four submission victories with three coming by rear-naked choke and the other by a guillotine.

In the Yamamoto fight, Uyenoyama was able to effectively take down Yamamoto almost at will. From there, Uyenoyama was able to switch positions with relative ease and even at one point threatened to be the first person to submit the Japanese striker. It came very close, and although Yamamoto’s wrestling was highly praised, it isn’t near the level of the New Mexico state wrestling champion, Benavidez.

Uyenoyama’s striking isn’t to the level of say a Demetrious Johnson or even a recent Benavidez, but a win could very well be within his grasp.

In this upcoming fight, Uyenoyama has to take the fight to Benavidez and deploy a repeat performance of his Yamamoto fight. If Uyenoyama can get Benavidez down and hold him there, work some ground-and-pound and threaten with submissions, his victory will be well earned. Not only that, but in a thin division like flyweight, wins over Benavidez and Harris are enough to put him next in line after John Moraga for a crack at the title.

The division just doesn’t have enough top fighters that can warrant a title shot outside of a few guys—Benavidez being one of those fighters. Perhaps if Uyenoyama defeats Benavidez, there can be a No. 1 contender fight with Moraga, assuming Johnson can’t defend his belt versus Moraga in the next few months.

Uyenoyama’s ground skill and the scenario of fighting in a newly created and thin division, coupled with the fact that he could possibly have a win over Benavidez, make Uyenoyama a top contender and perhaps the next in line for a shot at UFC gold.

Photo: Darren Uyenoyama (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.