UFC on FX 2: What We Can Expect from the UFC's Flyweight Debut
For the second time in 14 months, the UFC will introduce a new weight class to the organization. On Friday, the Ultimate Fighting Championships will debut their new Flyweight division—limit of 125 lbs.
UFC on FX 2 will feature the opening round of a four-man tournament designed to crown the first UFC Flyweight Champion. For many MMA fans—die-hard and casual alike—this will be their first introduction to one of the smallest divisions in all of mixed martial arts.
In order to prepare you for the two great match-ups coming up—Joseph Benavidez vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani, Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall—here’s a look at some of the nuances of flyweight competition.
More Evenly Matched
Weight cutting is one of the first true advantages that a fighter can get over his opponent.
It’s the reason that guys like Anthony “Rumble” Johnson fight at welterweight or Quinton “Rampage” Jackson—speculated to reach as much as 250 lbs. out of competition—fight at light heavyweight.
Having those few extra pounds, or in some cases those three to five extra inches in height can definitely make a difference (see Frankie Edgar).
While not every flyweight is made equally, the size advantages will be smaller. Many current flyweights have never fought higher than bantamweight, including three of the UFC’s flyweight tournament competitors (Joseph Benavidez has one career fight at featherweight).
The four competitors are separated by only two inches in height and the reach advantages are similar. You won’t find many guys who could be a small lightweight cutting all the way down to 125 lbs.
Though size doesn’t make fights, facing a guy similar to your own at least visually levels the playing field.
When you are 6’3, 265 lbs it can be difficult to maintain a lightning-fast pace for three five-minute rounds.
However, when you are 5’3 and 125 lbs, it becomes a little easier to fight at the speed of a NASCAR race.
One thing you will enjoy is the rapid pace in which these guys fight. For instance, Demetrious Johnson dropped a unanimous decision to UFC bantamweight king Dominick Cruz, but what was most impressive was the way he consistently pushed the action against Cruz.
“Mighty Mouse” attempted takedowns, threw strikes and tried to wear down the champion for all 25 minutes of the fight.
Unfortunate for him, Cruz’s skill and size—five inches taller and has fought as high as lightweight—were too much.
We have even seen guys like Uriah Faber, Jose Aldo and even Cruz himself fight with a level of intensity and endurance that you do not regularly see in the heavier divisions.
For once, it pays to be the little guy.
More Decisions/Fewer Knockouts
Depending upon if you are a glass “half-full” or “half-empty” type of person, your happiness with this detail could go either way.
Oh who am I kidding, fight fans like finishes!
In the Rubik’s Cube that is MMA judging, the last thing we should want to see is the potential for more controversial, head-scratching decisions. I’m sorry to say that this outcome is very likely. Fighters this small naturally don’t generate a lot of power.
Among the top 10 flyweights ranked by FightMetric, only two—Mitsuhisa Sunabe (Pancrase) and Haruo Ochi (Shooto)—have a percentage of wins by knockout of 40 percent or greater. Six of those same fighters have a win-by-decision rate of 46 percent or higher.
The most glaring example is UFC flyweight tournament competitor Yasuhiro Urushitani, who has only five knockouts, yet has 14 decisions in his 19 wins.
Whether or not we see jaw-shattering KOs, we are still in for some great performances from some of the best fighters in the world.
As to not end this on a sour note, here’s the fight-finishing rates for all four UFC flyweight tournament fighters:
Joseph Benavidez - 15 wins, 3 KOs, 8 submissions
Finishing rate = 73%
Yasuhiro Urushitani - 19 wins, 5 KOs, 0 submissions
Finishing rate = 26%
Demetrious Johnson - 14 wins, 3 KOs, 6 submissions
Finishing rate = 64%
Ian McCall - 11 wins, 4 KOs, 3 submissions
Finishing rate = 64%