Are There Enough Top-Level Fighters for the Flyweight Division?
Ever since announcing the birth of their own flyweight division, the UFC has every major flyweight locked down outside of Alliance MMA's Danny Martinez, highly-touted Brazilian prospect Jose "No Chance" Tome and former Tachi Palace Fights' flyweight world champion Darrell Montague.
For those who lost track, this means they currently hold Louis Gaudinot, John Dodson, Yasuhiro Urushitani and former TPF champions Ian McCall and Ulysses Gomez. In addition, they lay claim to Shooto Brazil flyweight champion Jussier "Formiga" da Silva, as well as Joseph Benavidez, Demtrious Johnson, John Lineker, Chris Cariaso, Darren Uyenoyama and John Moraga.
Dodson will welcome da Silva into the promotion at UFC on FX 5 in Minneapolis, while Lineker combats Urushitani in Macau in November.
In short, the UFC holds something of a who's who as far as flyweights go, but after Benavidez and Johnson square off at UFC 152, can we claim to spot any top-level fighters?
We already can spot plenty of fighters who can fall under that description right now, if we're only talking about the UFC's flyweight division. McCall earned that claim with wins over da Silva and Montague, while da Silva owns a win over touted prospect Mamoru Yamaguchi and Gomez holds the distinction of being a two-division TPF champions.
All in all, though, there aren't enough "top level" fighters in the flyweight division just yet. Strangely enough, this lack of top-level fighter depth doesn't hurt the division, and we already understand why this doesn't hurt the division in forward progression.
The division as a whole is new to fans, and a plethora of talented top-level flyweights—both discovered and undiscovered—still reside in promotions all over the world, while others remain under the radar because of the belief that lighter weight classes just will not sell, no matter how good they are.
Can the flyweight division become a "big money" division?
As it stands now, roughly 43 percent of the UFC flyweight division dropped from bantamweight. The other 57 percent comprises of natural flyweights, with recent signee Phil Harris coming into the promotion with the distinction of being Europe's top flyweight.
Luckily for fans, the division will gain depth over time. In the past, fighters who were light for the bantamweight division found themselves training to combat their larger foes because no MMA promotion provided a platform for the flyweights.
Now that flyweights have that platform thanks to the inclusion of the division in multiple promotions, the talent pool definitely provides the depth needed for the division to prosper long-term.
That said, the flyweights will not come unless the promotions themselves build that platform for flyweights to showcase their talents to the world. If the promotion builds it, the fighters will deem that platform as the best platform on which to showcase their talents to the world.
Once the fighter displays their talents on that platform, they will make a name for themselves with each passing performance. At the moment they make their name known to the MMA world, the MMA world will recognize their talent and consider them a top-level fighter.
Right now, the division produces hidden gems and crowd-pleasing favorites, but with so many hidden gems in the division, it gets hard to truly comprehend who stands on the top level and who does not.
However, that could change between now and the time of UFC 152 on Saturday. The division may seem to lack top-level fighters in a division that only now picks up any hype or excitement, but with what the flyweights bring to the table, that hype has the potential to translate into some million-dollar action in the long run.
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