Dustin Ortiz and 3 Flyweights Ready to Shake Up the Division
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has reigned supreme as the best 125-pound fighter in the world, and over the past two years he has dispatched the entire divisional Top Five.
He’s looked dominant against his contemporaries and is set to defend his belt against the No. 8-ranked Chris Cariaso in a head-scratcher of a fight at UFC 177 on August 30. If fighters like Joseph Benavidez, Ian McCall and John Moraga can’t find a chink in the armor of Mighty Mouse, his next challenges may come from some of the talent outside of the Top Five, where there is no dearth of skilled fighters.
The emerging contenders in the UFC’s lightest men’s weight class are ready for the big stage, and fighters like Dustin Ortiz, Kyoji Horiguchi and Zach Makovsky are all striving to shake up the division and earn a title shot.
With Ortiz winning a close fight against Justin Scoggins and Jon Lineker’s recent Fight of the Night battle with Alptekin Ozkilic putting him back on the winning track, there is no shortage of viable contenders for Johnson.
No. 4: Dustin Ortiz
The 25-year-old out of the Roufusport camp has shown in his four UFC fights that he is on his way to becoming one of the best flyweights in the world. He finished his first seven opponents to start off his pro career back in 2010 and has gone 3-1 inside the Octagon.
Training with the masterful Duke Roufus has rounded out his striking game, and hitting the mat with Ben Askren has improved his already impressive grappling acumen.
Ortiz is definitely a few fights away from a title fight, but he’s well-conditioned and well-rounded. He is ready for a Top Five opponent.
No. 3: Kyoji Horiguchi
Horiguchi has been training alongside Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto at the Krazy Bee gym since he was 18 years old. He has notched UFC wins over Dustin Pague and Darrell Montague, and eight of his 13 professional wins have come by KO/TKO.
He’s set to compete next at the Saitama Super Arena on September 21 when the UFC returns to Japan, and a future bout between Horiguchi and Dustin Ortiz would be a great test for both fighters.
Horiguchi's next opponent has a tough task against the 23-year-old Japanese prospect.
No. 2: Zach Makovsky
The former Bellator bantamweight champion burst onto the UFC flyweight scene with unanimous-decision wins over his first two opponents inside the Octagon, Scott Jorgensen and Josh Sampo.
He’s looked measurably better as a 125-pounder, and he has a matchup with Jussier Formiga on August 16 when the UFC heads to Bangor, Maine. A win over someone as dangerous as Formiga will definitely earn Fun Size a higher spot in the rankings and move him that much closer to a title shot.
He could become the first person to hold Bellator and UFC gold, and that prospect alone is a reason to watch Makovsky as he gets closer to a fight with Demetrious Johnson.
No. 1: John Lineker
In a lot of ways Lineker already has shaken up the flyweight division. He lost out in what was effectively a title eliminator against Ali Bagautinov at UFC 169 but has an impressive 5-3 record in the UFC.
His most recent outing against Alptekin Ozkilic was the best we’ve seen him look, and he was on weight for this fight, which is a problem he’s struggled with in the past. Had he made weight for all of his UFC fights, he may have already gotten a crack at Mighty Mouse.
Lineker possesses the power to put away anyone in the division, and as he showed against Ozkilic, his striking is still a threat until the final bell. A title fight is most likely on the horizon for Lineker, and he stands the best chance to dethrone the king.