Breaking Down the UFC’s New Fighter Rankings – Flyweights
It’s been a busy month for the UFC’s smallest division. With the top four 125-pounders all seeing action against one another during the last 30 days, the UFC Flyweight division has become one of the most top heavy weight classes in the entire organization. Combine that with the fact there are only 13 fighters to choose from, the UFC’s inaugural Flyweight rankings fall just short of encompassing the entire division. It’s also worth mentioning that several fighters hold a UFC record of 1-1 on this list. It’s a shallow division but a division nonetheless and any fighter with the guts to get into a cage with another man deserves the same amount of respect the larger weight classes get. So without further ado, here’s a look at the UFC’s top 10 flyweights:
UFC Flyweight Champion: Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson
Long considered one of the best 135-pounders on the planet, Johnson held an impressive 14-2 record and 4-2 Zuffa record in the Bantamweight division. But Johnson’s diminutive size (he’s only 5’3″) put him at a distinct disadvantage against many of the elite fighters in his weight class. But since the creation of the UFC flyweight division, Johnson has been on a tear, going 4-0-1 against fighters he can actually look eye-to-eye without having to arch his neck back, on his way to winning the inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship against Joseph Benavidez last September.
Since then, “Mighty Mouse” has successfully defended his title against John Dodson at UFC on Fox 6 and cemented himself as the best 125-pounder in the world. With wins over the top three flyweights in Benavidez, Ian McCall and Dodson, I see a lot of rematches in Johnson’s foreseeable future, meaning fight fans might see a lengthy title run from the fastest fighter in the octagon.
1. Joseph Benavidez
After losing to Johnson in the inaugural title bout, Joseph Benavidez bounced back with a win over former flyweight kingpin Ian McCall, proving he is still one of the biggest threats to Johnson’s reign. With his only career losses coming to Bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz and Johnson, the Team Alpha Male fighter remains the most widely recognizable flyweight outside of the champ. While Benavidez has made it clear he’s in no rush for the rematch against “Mighty Mouse,” with such a shallow division he may not have much choice. If he can find a way to negate the speed Johnson displayed in their first bout, I don’t see any reason why the belt won’t change hands, as Benavidez was widely considered the favorite entering their initial fight. If not, then Benavidez will remain the undisputed number two fighter in the division.
2. John “The Magician” Dodson
Even though he became the first casualty of Johnson’s title reign, John Dodson still finds himself among the elite of the division. The Ultimate Fighter season 14 winner gave Johnson all he could handle and even won the first two rounds in my eyes during their bout at UFC on Fox 6. Boasting the only speed that can rival the champion to go along with unbelievable athleticism and power few flyweights can match, Dodson has established himself as one of the most talented fighters below 155-pounds. Fight fans should get used to seeing “The Magician” fighting for a belt, as his first loss under the Zuffa banner should be nothing more than a speed bump to the championship he’s destined for. Not to mention he has the best sponsor in all of MMA.
3. “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall
In the pre-UFC flyweight division, Ian McCall was considered the best 125-pounder in the world with a record of 11-2. But since joining the UFC, McCall has compiled a disappointing 0-2-1 record with the losses coming to Johnson and Benavidez. While losing to the two best flyweights is nothing to be ashamed off, McCall came in with all the momentum in the world and fought the future champion to a draw in a fight many think he won. But after dropping his last fight to Benavidez, fans have begun to question whether McCall is really the elite fighter he was believed to be before entering the big time. If “Uncle Creepy” can’t get his hand raised in his next fight, it will not only drop him out of the top five but will also rule out any chance of him fighting for the belt in the foreseeable future.
4. John Moraga
With a 13-1 career record and the only winning streak in the entire division besides Johnson, the former ASU wrestling All-American has emerged as an incredibly formidable contender among the flyweights. This was further established after UFC President Dana White announced the former Sun Devil would be next in line for his title shot at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on April 13. With a height and reach advantage over many 125-pounders, along with world-class wrestling and training partners like UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson and Jamie Varner, the MMA Lab product might have the best chance to end Johnson’s title reign.
5. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva
With a record 14-1 record and holding victories over Japanese stars Mamoru Yamaguchi and Shinichi Kojima, many wondered if the former Shooto South America 123-pound champion would receive an immediate title shot upon joining the UFC. Luckily he didn’t, as he was finished via TKO by Dodson late in the second round of his UFC debut and lost his title shot in the process. While it’s only one loss, being finished in a division not known for its finishes definitely hurts. Formiga’s going to need a win in his next matchup if he wants to stay relevant and keep his name off lists naming the biggest flops in the UFC. A matchup against McCall would serve as the perfect test as both fighters are looking to prove they belong in the upper half of their division.
6. Louis “Goodnight” Gaudinot
Louis Gaudinot is the best flyweight no one is talking about. Entering the UFC as bantamweight, “Goodnight” was soundly defeated by TKO in a weight class he had no prior experience in. But in first fight back down at 125-pounds, the green-haired warrior earned a submission victory in his “Fight of the Night” performance against John Lineker. With finishes in four of his last five wins, the sky is the limit for Gaudinot. If he can manage to string together a few wins, it won’t be long before the New Jersey native breaks into the upper echelon of the UFC’s lightest division.
7. Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso
Before dropping down in weight, Chris Cariaso was considered a bantamweight that, for some reason, just couldn’t break into the top 10 of the division. Cariaso started his career with a 13-3 record- 4-2 under the Zuffa banner- with both loses coming against the two men fighting for the interim bantamweight title this Saturday, Renan Barao and Michael McDonald. He lost to the best of the best, which is nothing to be ashamed off. But since dropping down to 125-pounds, “Kamikaze” has compiled a record of 1-1. His lone win came over Josh Ferguson, who isn’t even in the UFC anymore, and his only loss came to new number one contender John Moraga. One more loss would most likely put Cariaso on the outside looking into the top 10. But with more experience than most of the flyweights as a Zuffa fighter, it’s nothing he can’t handle.
8. John “Hands of Stone” Lineker
A longtime bantamweight in Brazil, John Lineker not only has one of the best nicknames in the UFC, he’s also one of the most experienced in his division. After a rocky start to his career, Lineker went on a 13-fight win streak before losing to Guadinot in his UFC debut. He then managed to bounce back with a decision win over Japanese standout Yasuhrio Urushitani. Having fought in four different weight classes since becoming a professional fighter, Lineker is undoubtedly one of the most ring-worn fighters in MMA, having fought 26 times since 2008 with seven coming in 2011 alone. It will take more than one win to get Lineker into title contention but with such a shallow division, any win will be a step in the right direction.
9. Darren “BC” Uyenoyama
At age 33, Darren Uyenoyama is the oldest fighter on the list but with only 11 fights he’s also one of the most inexperienced. Having decided to take five years off between his first professional fight in 2002 and his second fight, Uyenoyama came back with a submission victory and strung together a respectable 7-3 record. But all that matters is his 2-0 record since joining the UFC. With his debut victory coming against Japanese bantamweight icon “Kid” Yamamoto on the highly anticipated UFC on Fox 1, Uyenoyama may only be one or two more wins away from a massive jump up the rankings. But so is everyone in the lower half of the flyweight division.
10. Ulysses “Useless” Gomez
Rounding out our list is Ulysses Gomez, whose name perfectly fits this spot on the list, as there are only 3 other fighters below him. With an 0-1 UFC record, 9-3 record overall, there isn’t much to judge Gomez on. After his violent TKO loss in his UFC debut to John Moraga, “Useless” is going to have to put on the show of his life against his next opponent Phil Harris this Saturday on UFC on Fuel TV 7. Win or lose, he must prove he belongs in the big leagues. If not he not only faces the possibility of dropping out of the top 10 but also being cut by the organization.
Check back for my thoughts on the rankings in each division, starting with the little guys and working all the way up to the heavyweights. Updates to the rankings will be provided the day after every major UFC event whether it’s a pay-per-view or card on Fox, FX or Fuel TV.
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