Pros and Cons of Demetrious Johnson in a Superfight with Bantamweight Champion
Prior to Saturday night's UFC on Fox 8 clash against John Moraga, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson told MMA media that he has his eye set on a matchup in the bantamweight division (via Dave Doyle of mmafighting.com):
This is about doing stuff for fun and tackling challenges and making history. I wouldn't mind being part of the first flyweight vs. bantamweight fight. Obviously they're like, you're smaller than that guy. So what? What's the worst that can happen?
In dominant fashion, "Mighty Mouse" defended his championship for the second time. With little more than one minute in the fight, Johnson latched onto an armbar that gave Moraga no choice but to admit defeat.
Now that Johnson has gotten beyond all immediate challenges in his division, fans are left pondering the potential superfight.
Here is a look at the pros and cons of a superfight between Demetrious Johnson and the UFC bantamweight champion.
Pro: Superfight Would Bring Attention to Flyweight Division
Anytime that a superfight takes place, it generates buzz among fans. Representatives from two weight classes collide, and one star's status is elevated tremendously based on the results.
Some of the top flyweight stars include Joseph Benavidez, Ian McCall and Jussier Formiga. Not only are they some of the world's most talented fighters at 125 pounds, but they are routinely forced to compete on preliminary cards, despite their rankings.
Needless to say, the littlest division inside the Octagon could certainly use the boost in visibility.
Con: Mighty Mouse Has Already Faced the Rightful Bantamweight Champion
Part of the excitement surrounding a superfight lies in the fact that the fight is supposedly a fantasy matchup come true.
Fans don't have to imagine what it would be like if reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson competed at bantamweight. After all, that is the division that Mighty Mouse called home for his first six appearances with Zuffa.
Johnson competed for the UFC bantamweight championship in 2011 against current champion Dominick Cruz. While a matchup between interim champion Renan Barao and Johnson would be interesting to witness, a Cruz/Barao title unification surpasses it in terms of appeal.
Con: Too Soon for Flyweight
If the UFC books the flyweight champion in a superfight at 135 pounds, it is acknowledging that the new weight class doesn't have depth to generate more than three title fights before needing to recharge.
The flyweight division has barely been in existence for more than one year. The championship itself has only been around for 10 months. If Demetrious Johnson has to go elsewhere to find competition after such a tiny span of time, the UFC might as well turn off the lights on the flyweights.
Pro: It Gives Both Divisions a Chance to Grow New Contenders
Whether we want to admit it or not, it's not just the flyweight division that is tapped for fresh challengers who are worthy of competing for gold. The boys at bantamweight could use some help too.
Need an example of how desperate the 135-pound division is for challengers? Eddie Wineland is fighting for gold in September despite being 2-2 in his most recent performances.
How many times can we watch Urijah Faber unsuccessfully fight for a title before realizing the bantamweights too are in serious need of new contenders?
A superfight between Johnson and Barao would keep both champions busy for the next several months. During that time, both weight classes would have the opportunity to develop new stars.