This piece is the start of a new series I will be conducting, where I take a look at what the future holds for every division in the UFC and whether or not fans have things to be excited for. For some reason, I decided to start with the most problematic division right now in the UFC – the flyweight division.
The flyweight division has always had trouble within the UFC, by no fault of it’s own. Many people around the sport know that Dana White hates promoting the flyweight division like any of his other divisions because he has never believed it would make him the same kind of money.
Whilst this whole belief system is true in one way, you would never know for certain unless you gave it a shot and the UFC never truly did. You had a guy like Demetrious Johnson, who was the inaugural flyweight champion and held the championship until 2018, a 6-year span, and never truly invested in him like other fighters in the UFC. Johnson was adored by the UFC fanbase, was a highly promotable guy for a company that has a history of promoting guys with a dodgy past and a dodgy present but Dana and the UFC never invested in him as they should. Then, as soon as he lost the title, he was shipped off in a ‘trade’ deal for Ben Askren.
Henry Cejudo was the man who dethroned Johnson in 2018 and to this day, many fans believed Johnson never lost that fight and therefore, never lost his title. Cejudo then built his legacy in the UFC off that title win but that was by moving up a division to the bantamweight division, leaving the flyweight division in limbo before Cejudo retired last week after beating Dominik Cruz.
The future of the flyweight division is completely up in the air, it currently doesn’t have a champion, doesn’t have a tournament or fight scheduled for that vacant title and even if Cejudo returns, he won’t return to the flyweight division because the money fights aren’t there. If you were to book a title fight, you would book it between Benavidez and Figueiredo. You also have fighters like Jussier Formiga, Brandon Moreno, and Askar Askarov who are up there in the rankings and could make up a great tournament-style format for the vacant title.
There have been many questions over the future of the flyweight division for a fair few years, even going back to when you had Johnson as the champion. Many media sources have stated that Dana White and the UFC are looking to drop the division as a whole and move on from it. Whilst that’s not happened so far, you wouldn’t want to rule it out too quickly, especially with the current climate of the world and the fact the UFC has only just returned to have fight cards without fans in the stands. If Dana needs to make cuts to the UFC for financial reasons, you’d have to imagine the flyweight division would make the list as a potential cut.
Unfortunately for the flyweight division, there will be constant questions surrounding it and it’s a real shame because I love watching the smaller guys fight, it’s proper technical fighting to me and I prefer it to heavyweight fighting. There’s real potential in the division, and it’s been there for years but the UFC seem like they can’t be bothered to take the plunge and invest in it, and unfortunately, to me, it seems they missed their chance to take that plunge when Johnson left for ONE and the division has been left in the dirt ever since.
Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports