BEHIND THE SCENES MMA ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
The New UFC Flyweight Division & the Top 10 Flyweights on the Planet
By Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester
The stage is set. The location has been selected. And after months of hints, rumors, and anticipation the Flyweights will finally enter the Octagon at UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann on March 3, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. At the UFC 140 press conference, UFC President Dana White announced that the newly introduced 125-pound Flyweight class will have a four-man title tournament. The announced bouts included Ian McCall vs. Demetrious Johnson, and Joseph Benavidez vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani.
Dana White went on to say that the winner of those two bouts would take on each other at a later date and fight for the UFC Flyweight Championship. Two UFC vets have been proclaimed the unofficial Flyweight Kings already since they entered the Octagon’s Bantamweight division; Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson just recently came off a loss against Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, but before this loss he had only tasted defeat once against Brad Pickett in his WEC debut back on April 24, 2010. Although only 9-2, Might Mouse have been plagued by critics before, who say that he is too small to be successful in the UFC’s Bantamweight division. Much of the same has been said about Team Alpha Male standout Joseph Benavidez. 15-2 in his pro career, Benavidez has shutout nearly everyone he has ever faced. Benavidez’s only losses have come from Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz.
Now that Johnson and Benavidez are officially in the weight class that critics believe they belong, the two now have to face off against the world’s elite of the Flyweight weight class.
The full roster for the UFC’s Flyweight division has not been officially released. However, here are the 10 fighters who are considered the Top 10 of the Flyweights on the Planet:
1. Ian McCall (11-2)
2011 has been a great year for Ian McCall. He started his 2011 crusade defeating who was then #1 ranked Flyweight Jussier da Silva at Tachi Palace Fights 8. He would later decision Dustin Ortiz in May. However, in his most recent outing, he submitted #5 ranked Darrell Montague by rear naked choke at Tachi Palace Fights 10 in August to capture the Tachi Palace Fights Flyweight Championship. Although his brief stint in the WEC in 2007 and 2009 is where he suffered his only two losses, he gets his chance to fight again in a Zuffa owned promotion next year at UFC On FX 2 where he will take on Demetrious Johnson; a fight that could lead him to a title shot and continuing his reign as the best Flyweight in the world.
2. Jussier da Silva (12-1)
This Brazilian Shooto Champion, who was once ranked as the #1 Flyweight in the world, has only lost once and that was to the current #1 Flyweight Ian McCall. A member of the Nova União team, da Silva has been on a tear since his pro career began in 2005. Six of his victories have come by submission, and all but one by his patented rear-naked-choke. In his most recent fight, he handed the once unbeaten Rodrigo Santos his first career loss. Surely, da Silva will continue proving why he deserves to be at the top of the Flyweight class.
3. Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6)
Japanese standout Yasuhiro Urushitani is considered one of the most consistent Flyweights as he is one of the more experienced Flyweights in the world. With noteworthy victories over John Dodson and Mamoru Yamaguchi, Urushitani will be entering the Octagon with a recent highlight reel head kick and follow-up punches victory over Yuki Shojo. Tough, determined, and equipped with a notable counter striking pedigree; Urushitani will have a tough outing in his first fight in the UFC against Joseph Benavidez at UFC On FX2 in Sydney, Australia. But the sky is the limit with this slick Flyweight. Can this Shooto World Champion become the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion? We’ll see March 3, 2012 if he can get past Joseph Benavidez.
4. Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3)
Former Shooto Bantamweight Champion and former Shooto Featherweight Champion, Yamaguchi is another experienced Flyweight. He is known for his afro and his furious and fast paced fights. Although recently suffering a loss to Jussier da Silva at Tachi Palace Fights 10 in August, he is still prominent in the Flyweight division due to his style. It is uncertain what may be next for Yamaguchi, but for one thing we’re sure of is that it’s going to be an exciting battle of action.
5. Darrell Montague (9-2)
Just 23-years-old, Darrell Montague has already captured a coveted championship. For “The Mongoose” was the Tachi Palace Fights Flyweight champion, before being submitted by Rear-Naked-Choke at the hands of Ian McCall. The Chino, California resident has ended 4 of his fights by (T)KO and 3 by submission. This exciting young prospect only has more opportunity to grow. If he garners more experience, Montague could be a force to be reckoned within the Flyweight division.
6. Shinichi “B.J.” Kojima (12-4-5)
Once upon a time, Shinichi Kojima was the king of the Flyweight weight class. His battles with Mamoru Yamaguchi led him to stardom in the Flyweight division. Although their first battle came to a draw, Kojima won the Shooto 123-pound title from Yamaguchi in 2006. He would go on to defend the title three times from 2006 to 2010 until vacating the title due to an ACL injury. Although he did not fight for two years after his loss to Jussier da Silva, he has rattled off back-to-back victories since his return in 2011, letting it be known that he is still relevant among the Flyweight elite.
7. Yuki Shojo (11-6-2)
Yuki Shojo will likely have a hard time trying to pierce the Top 5 again after suffering a head kick loss to Yasuhiro Urushitani in July. Two failed attempts to gain the Shooto 123-pound title have sent Shojo to the back of the Flyweight division. He will surely attempt to right the ship sort-of-speak and get back to his winning ways, for he was on a three fight winning streak before being handed a loss to Urushitani. Despite his recent loss, Shojo still remains a tough draw for any Flyweight challenger.
8. Kiyotaka Shimizu (10-6-2)
One of the upcoming prospects in the Flyweight division, Kiyotaka Shimizu is a tough challenge for up-and-comers. The reigning super flyweight King of Pancrase had a rough outing at the beginning of his career, going 1-4-1 before setting himself on a successful 4-fight win streak in Pancrase. Since 2009, he went on to be 9-1-1, but would falter against Shinichi “B.J.” Kojima in November of 2011. He looks to get back to his winning ways against Seiji Ozuka on January 28, 2012 at Pancrase – Progress Tour 1.
9. John Dodson (12-5)
Unlike most of the other Flyweights on this list, John Dodson already has had the privilege of fighting for the UFC. Recently coming off a successful stint on the Ultimate Fighter, Dodson became the first ever UFC Bantamweight winner when he defeated T.J. Dillashaw by first round knockout. Although successful at Bantamweight, Dodson made himself known for fighting at Flyweight for most of his career. He made his debut against the then #1 ranked Flyweight Yasuhiro Urushitani, and while he lost, the decision was quite controversial. Dodson has proved himself to be successful in two of the lighter weight classes. Whether he will fight in the newly implemented Flyweight class or stay at Bantamweight since he just won TUF is a mystery as of now. But he will likely find major success in both weight classes, as his quickness and power will overcome a majority of his opponents.
10. Louis Gaudinot (5-2)
Like John Dodson, Louis Gaudinot was a member of the season 14 cast of The Ultimate Fighter. He however had mixed results during his time on the show as he was fighting at Bantamweight rather than Flyweight. Although he won his initial fight to get into the house, he lost to Dustin Pague on the show in an exhibition bout, and was dominated by Johnny Bedford on the finale show. Before signing with the UFC, Gaudinot fought for the New Jersey promotion Ring Of Combat, where he went 5-1 and captured the Flyweight Championship from Jessie Riggleman. Much like some other Flyweight fighters who fought at Bantamweight because the UFC didn’t have a Flyweight division at the time, Gaudinot was too small in stature to do well at Bantamweight. Now that the Flyweight division exists in the UFC, Gaudinot would fare better if he dropped weight and got back into the division in which he found most of his success.
And that was a brief look at the Top 10 of the Flyweight division. With the Flyweight’s now in the UFC, MMA fans can surely expect to witness the spectacle of action that is known to come with the lighter weight classes. UFC fans can surely anticipate the excitement of the introduction of the Flyweights at UFC on FX 2 come March 3, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka