UFC 152: Who Is Next for the Flyweight Champion When He Is Crowned?
UFC 152 is the first major event to be headlined by 125-lb. flyweights. The fight takes place between former bantamweights Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson, and will crown the first UFC flyweight champion.
Looking ahead of the historic event, there is not a clear contender at this point. There are only 14 current flyweights in the UFC with either one or even no flyweight fights to their name.
Currently signed as 125-pounders are Johnson, Benavidez, Chris Cariaso, Ian McCall, John Dodson, Louis Gaudinot, Josh Ferguson, Darren Uyenoyama, Tim Elliott, John Lineker, Yasuhiro Urushitani, Jussier da Silva, Ulysses Gomez and John Moraga.
Moraga is set to fight Gomez at UFC on Fox a week from Saturday. Urushitani and Lineker, who are both coming off losses, will square off at UFC 151 in September. Elliott, Ferguson and McCall are all coming off losses as well, with McCall earning his loss to title challenger Johnson. Da Silva has not fought, nor is he scheduled yet, in the UFC, though he is considered a top-five flyweight in the world.
Two recent winners, Dodson and Cariaso, should be seen as the front-runners for the first title defense in history. Either one of them would not upset me if they were chosen to be the first challenger.
Cariaso, who has spent almost his whole career at bantamweight, is 5-2 under the Zuffa umbrella. His only two losses come to top bantamweights Renan Barao and Michael McDonald.
Among his wins are decisions against Vaughan Lee, Takeya Mizugaki and Ferguson, which was his flyweight debut. In said flyweight debut, Cariaso looked to be a legitimate threat at 125, as he dismantled a tough fighter in Ferguson.
Who Should Get First Crack at the Champ?
The other man I would most likely give the nod to is Dodson. A winner of The Ultimate Fighter as a bantamweight, Dodson has spent a good part of his career outside the UFC as a flyweight. He has seen a good amount of success in that time.
A gifted striker, Dodson has looked astonishing thus far in his UFC tenure. He won the TUF with a brutal knockout of T.J. Dillashaw. He followed that up with a flyweight victory over Elliott, which was fought tough and took a toll on his hands.
Many want to see da Silva get the next shot, but as Hector Lombard proved, if you are an outsider, you must earn your spot in the UFC.
Therefore, Cariaso and Dodson must be considered front-runners. If they have time to wait until the title shot, I would think squaring them off in a No.1 contender's bout would be logical.
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