What’s Next For The UFC At Flyweight & Featherweight?

Who Will Progress In The Flyweight Tournament?

This Friday night viewers tuning in to FX will see the next stage in the UFC’s bold experiment with the lighter-weight classes. While Martin Kampmann vs. Thiago Alves main events the UFC’s annual Australian show, the major talking point for hardcore fans is the opening rounds of the four-man flyweight tournament. At 125Ibs these will be the smallest fighters to ever compete inside the Octagon and, as fans of independent lighter-weight torchbearer Tachi Palace Fights will attest, some of the most talented and exciting.

The matchups pit two fighters who have been regularly fighting at 125Ibs for some time against two former standouts of Zuffa’s bantamweight division who had came up short against the champion due to lacking the size and stature of Dominick Cruz. Both Johnson and Benavidez impressed in their losing efforts, particularly Benavidez who actually was scored the victor on one judge’s scorecard.

However, Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson are not the only the fighters with tenure in the WEC with ‘Uncle Creepy’ Ian McCall having lost to Cruz in 2010. He would however rebound in 2011 upon a move down in weight, putting together three wins at 125Ibs including a shock victory over Jussier da Silva. Going into that fight Silva was widely regarded as the best flyweight in the world and it’s a ranking that McCall inherited. The fourth man in the tournament is Yasuhiro Urushitani, the former Shooto 123Ibs Champion At thirty-five years old he has a mixed record in major fights going 2-1-2 in Shooto Title fights, although on the plus side the thirty-five year old has far more tenure at the weight than the other men in the tournament.

Benavidez and Johnson were both top contenders at 125Ibs despite both struggling to maintain their weight at 135Ibs with Johnson having to go to the extreme of overeating to build mass. While both men will probably not enjoy the speed advantage they brought into their fights at 135Ibs both fighters’ excellent offensive wrestling should prove the difference against Urushitani and McCall. If both win, then their victories would set up a superb a superb technical battle between two great all-round fighters for the inaugural championship.

Why Is Dana White Demanding Frankie Edgar Move Down To Featherweight?

In other lighter-weight news, UFC President Dana White intensified his campaign for freshly defeated lightweight champion Frankie Edgar to move down to 145Ibs by publicly offering him an immediate title shot at UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. White is arguing that his rationale is concern for Edgar’s welfare. “This guy’s fighting with 155-pounders, guys that are cutting from 170-plus, and they’re always so much bigger than him. The guy has absolute wars and pulls out decisions that are so controversial every time”.

However White has an agenda that goes beyond concern for Edgar. He has in Jose Aldo a champion that is widely considered a pound for pound great but who has not had the signature fight that will announce himself to the general fight fan. Worse than that Aldo is rapidly running out of credible title contenders with no obvious challenger for the Brazilian until the winner of Chung Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier is known in May. And with several early Summer shows still needing main events, the UFC could really do with a marketable championship match before whoever emerges victorious from UFC on FUEL 3 is ready to return.

While Dana White obviously thinks Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar is that main event he may want to stop and question why fighters such as Edgar are so leery about moving down in weight. Its noticeable that over a year after the featherweight and bantamweight divisions were bought into the UFC that we have not seen the expected shift in talent from lightweight as natural 145Ibers dropped down due to no longer facing a choice between fighting at lightweight or fighting outside the UFC. Some have, but mostly it was guys at the end of fairly long losing streaks. His aggressive push to get Edgar to accept the Aldo match is a start, but Dana White needs to do more work to get smaller lightweights to realize that their careers’ will benefit from competing at lightweight.

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