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Breaking Down the Flyweight Division: a Look at the Top 5

April 2nd, 2014 at 9:15 AM
By Steven J Cavagnino

'UFC 103 Franklin vs. Belfort - American Airlines Center - Dallas, TX' photo (c) 2009, Mark Richardson - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

For a division that only has 30 fighters in it, Flyweight has made a huge impression in the UFC, proving many naysayers wrong. When introduced to the UFC, many felt that pursuing 125 pounders was a waste of time. Criticisms came with every new fight: they weren’t big enough to cause any damage, all they did was bounce around the entire fight, they had no knockout power, there was no star power to hold the division down. 

Fast forward a few years, to now, and those who doubted the flyweights have been all but silenced. With a slew of TKO, KO, and Submission victories, Flyweight fighters have not only proved their worth, but they have proved that their finishing rate is higher than most of the heavier divisions. Some of the hardest hitters in the UFC come from the flyweight division, not to mention the incredible level of athleticism that is required to stay competitive at 125. 

Fighters like John Dodson, Demetrious Johnson, John Lineker, Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall have some of the biggest names in the UFC; and the draw they have has proven the Flyweight division’s worth is as much as any other division. 

The top contenders in the Flyweight division are an incredibly talented bunch, perhaps culminating in the most closely contested division in the UFC. With rumors swirling around Flyweight Champion, Demetrious Johnson’s next fight, here is a look at the top five flyweights in the UFC.  

Ali Baugautinov

‘The Puncher King’ has quickly made a name for himself in Flyweight division. Sitting at 3-0, Baugautinov has made a habit of knocking out strikers, like Marcos Vincius, and out grappling, wrestlers, like Tim Elliot. Interestingly enough, ‘Puncher King’ is the only fighter in the top 5 that hasn’t lost to the champion, and, after beating John Lineker at UFC 169, Ali Baugautinov is rumored to be the next fighter to challenge for the belt, though, the fight is not officially announced. 

 

John Moraga

Coming off a hard fought win over Dustin Ortiz, John Moraga is a heavy hitting wrester based out off Arizona. Though he already has a submission loss to Demetrious Johnson, Moraga, who trains with the likes of former champion Benson Henderson, and Efrain Escudero, will look to capitalize on his momentum and work his way back up to a title shot. With a crop of new and up-and-coming fighter nipping at his heels, Moraga will really need to perform in his next bout, to prove that he is capable of fighting for the title again.

Ian McCall

Having fought the champion not once, but twice, Ian McCall is easily the most talented flyweight to not have challenged for the title. McCall’s first fight with Demetrious Johnson went to a draw, though many had McCall winning the fight. Still, this just showed how closely contested these two athletes are. In the second, Johnson came out with the win in yet another completive affair. Since then, McCall has lost to 2-time title challenger, Joseph Benavidez, and won a unanimous decision against Iliarde Santos. Hoping to ride the momentum, McCall could be one or two fights away from a third bout with Johnson, a fight that would, without a doubt, be a barn burner. 

Joseph Benavidez

Though Joseph Benavidez is perhaps the most talented flyweight in the world not name Demetrious Johnson, that is exactly his problem. Benavidez, a member of the world renowned, Team Alpha Male, has fought for the title two times, losing both fights. If getting a third fight with the champ wasn’t hard enough, Demetrious Johnson knocked Benavidez out cold with a brutal right hand in their last fight. Benavidez has the ability to beat any Flyweight in the world, and he has proved that every time he hasn’t fought for the title. With that said, it will be along road back for Benavidez, but it starts with Tim Elliot, a tough fighter in his own right as the two ware scheduled to duke it out in the coming months.

John Dodson

‘The Magician’ is, if not the most, one of the most athletic fighters on the UFC roster. Dodson is the owner of the most explosive punching power in the division. He makes knocking his opponents out look easy, almost like he didn’t mean to hit them as hard as he did. Although he lost a very close decision to Demetrious Johnson for the title, Dodson has done his work since then, devastating Darell Montague with his famed power. His upcoming bout with John Moraga is a fight that has the potential to line either man up with another title shot. A win over the other will put each man in a two fight win streak, and, if Dodson can beat another top contender in Moraga, he could very well rematch Johnson. 

 

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Tags: Demetrious Johnson, Flyweight, Ian McCall, John Dodson, John Moraga, Joseph Benavidez, MMA, title, UFC

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