The UFC Smaller Weight Classes – Great for Dominant Champions and Poor for the Fans
By Christopher Jester
Is the UFC lighter weight classes running out of talent or is Sean Shelby, the lighter weight classes matchmaker for the UFC, simply not putting together the right fights? The latter seems a bit farfetched as some of the better match-ups of the past couple of years have come from the lighter weight classes. The issue that continues to crop up is that fans are not overly attached to the non-traditional MMA weight classes.
But is that even the problem? After Demetrious Johnson put a clinic on John Moraga at UFC on FOX 8 and after his exciting title defense against John Dodson, there should only be a few mumblings that say the flyweights don’t bring it. Johnson who is even known for not finishing his fights submitted Moraga. He was consistently going for the finish the entirety of the fight and to put a nail in the coffin that he doesn’t finish fights, he did so.
Johnson did his part, even when there was still enough rumblings for Dana White to tell any fan who disliked the Johnson-Moraga fight to not watch the UFC anymore. Johnson is not the problem. The talent within the UFC and the lack of extra promotion is the issue. The UFC is partly at fault for constantly having the broadcasting team for UFC on FOX 8 ignore what division the title was even for. The broadcasters kept saying “world title”. The UFC honestly cannot expect for casual fans to respect the lighter weight classes if even they do not have the gall enough to state what weight class the title is for.
The flyweight division has promise and very few of their fights have not lived up to the billing. They are fast and exhilarating. With the help of John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez, they even prove that flyweights can finish fights. However, once the casual fan moves past those few top names, who else do they know? The division is so thinly talented at the moment, that another win by Joseph Benavidez puts him back into title contention.
Only 16 fighters are listed on the UFC’s fighter profile page. 16! And Demetrious Johnson has already defeated four of them in his most recent fights. It goes without saying that the UFC has no choice but to put Benavidez back into a title match with Demetrious Johnson. The only issue is that rematches have become the go-to marketing tool. While their first match-up was a split decision, even though some would argue that Johnson swept the cards, should the rematch come so soon? Probably not.
But, Benavidez is a commodity of his own; a talented and popular UFC fighter. Delaying him from a title shot would do more harm than good. But it is more so because there is just no one else talented enough to leapfrog ahead of Benavidez as well. The same issue is taking place in the women’s bantamweight division, as during UFC on FOX 8 they kept reminding the audience that Liz Carmouche may get a title shot upon beating Jessica Andrade.
Carmouche, before beating Andrade, had just come off a title fight against Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. The same issues at flyweight are taking place in the women’s bantamweight division as well. Very little talent breeds very few contenders. The truth is, Carmouche does not deserve another title shot this quickly. Yes, she put Rousey in danger but it was not enough to warrant her a shot again. She should at least face who most feel is the biggest threat to Rousey and that woman is Sara McMann. With Rousey-Tate 2 taking place at the end of the year, a match-up between Carmouche and McMann makes the most sense; unless the UFC is willing to give Cat Zingano her title shot once she heals from her injury.
Little can be done right now about the lighter weight classes. Sean Shelby is doing all that he can at the moment. The concern is that this little amount of talent will eventually breed dull weight classes because matchmaking can only do so much with the few fighters that are on the UFC’s rosters for these few weight classes. Unless, Shelby can get crafty with his bout decisions, the light weight classes may be doomed to face mismatches or at least seemingly dominant champions for the time being.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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