UFC's Flyweights: Are They Getting the Respect They Deserve?
When it comes to combat sports, fans tend to naturally gravitate towards larger men. I suppose the rationale is that bigger men produce more devastating finishes.
And, to a certain extent I would say that’s probably true; I think it’s more likely that Junior dos Santos completely levels an opponent than Demetrious Johnson scoring a brutal one-punch knockout. But that’s not to say that smaller men, especially flyweights, are incapable of finishing fights.
When you examine the upper echelon of the 125-pound division, you’ll see plenty of strong finishers, despite what detractors will lead you to believe. In fact, I may as well touch down on Johnson's career while he’s fresh in the mind.
“Mighty Mouse”, the UFC's current flyweight titleholder has yet to finish an opponent within the UFC’s octagon, but he’s proven time and again that he’s not only capable of finishing, he’s capable of finishing in various different fashions.
The man has 19 fights on his ledger, and he’s walked away victorious via submission or strikes on nine occasions. I’m no master mathematician, but I’m fairly certain that’s a near-50 percent finish ratio, which isn’t all too shabby.
Ian McCall, who just tangled with Johnson on two consecutive occasions, boasts seven finishes in 15 fights. He’s a proven powerful striker at 125, and he’s stopped a few durable fighters, including the tough as nails Coty Wheeler.
Even excluding fights in which McCall finished, he’s battered some truly respectable talent: Jussier da Silva, Dustin Ortiz and Darrell Montague—three very respectable fighters—have all come up short when tangling with the aggressive “Uncle Creepy”. This guy puts on stellar shows, and he deserves a wealth of respect. There’s no boredom when Ian takes to the cage.
Outside of the champion, who is the best Flyweight in the UFC?
Yasuhiro Urushitani is a bona fide Shooto star, and he’s easily one of the most experienced competitors campaigning at 125 pounds today. Unlike many others I’ll be mentioning, who’ve recently made the transition from bantamweight to flyweight, he’s been flirting with the 125-pound division for quite some time. He’s accomplished quite a bit as well.
Yasuhiro admittedly lacks some killer instinct, as he’s picked up only five stoppages in his 19 wins, but he’s a workhorse who shows up to give opposition hell. The man owns a hard fought victory over Mamoru Yamaguchi as well as a unanimous decision nod over Daniel Lima, and those are respectable feats.
What’s truly insane is, even after mentioning so much talent within the division, I haven’t even tackled the topic of Joseph Benavidez, who may very well be the most impressive competitor tipping the scales at 125 pounds not holding a title belt.
Those who follow mixed martial arts faithfully know that Benavidez has spent the majority of his career brutalizing bantamweights. Joey B, as I like to call him, has only recently dropped in weight class, but he appears to be a solid performer at flyweight.
The man is a human wrecking ball, and he’s turned some absolutely amazing fighters into helpless victims. Eddie Wineland, Wagnney Fabiano, Danny Martinez, Jeff Curran, Miguel Torres and Rani Yahya were all toppled by the Team Alpha Male standout, and that is—by a sizable margin—the most impressive résumé I can point to in this article.
The man is as relentless as it comes, and not only does he bring a potent wrestling pedigree to the cage, he’s a refined, powerful striker as well. Of his sixteen victories he’s allowed the fight to fall in the judges’ hands just four times. The killer instinct is strong in this one!
I’d be a full-on fool to omit Jussier da Silva, who makes his promotional debut this evening, from this discussion. This monster has only tasted defeat once in his career: that loss coming at the hands of the aforementioned Ian McCall, who is clearly a top-five ranked flyweight, if not top three.
Da Silva’s racked up 15 wins in his seven years of professional competition, and he’s submitted six foes along the way. Wins over Rodrigo Favacho dos Santos, Mamoru Yamaguchi and Danny Martinez (who himself has picked up twelve finishes in sixteen victories; don’t tell me that’s not a finisher) anchor his blossoming ledger, and those are certainly impressive victories.
This is a man who might prove to make some major waves in the division, if he can get by John Dodson, another superb athlete who's finished in seven of eighteen fights, tonight.
The point I’m out to make is that small fighters are just about as dangerous as large ones, when paired on a level playing field, and they deserve serious respect for their efforts. These men are fast, agile and dangerous wherever the fight may take place. Fans’ tendency to label the division a “boring” one is just inaccurate on many, many levels.
With the UFC finally providing the division a large scale kick-start, we’ll be seeing a lot of extremely talented men meet in fistic fashion, and while we may have been forced to endure a few drawn out decisions as of late, I guarantee we’ll play witness to some explosive action in the future.
Small or not, these guys are the real deal, and they deserve every bit of respect that is typically extended to the larger fighters. I say, give the division some more time to expand, and wait patiently for what promises to be fireworks.
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