Does Demetrious Johnson’s departure signal the end of the UFC Flyweight Division?

Despite still missing the statement that makes the trade between ONE Championship and UFC official, it’s safe to say that Ben Askren and Demetrious Johnson are set to move soon.

While this is considered one of the biggest mixed martial arts news to date, there are some concerns moving forward, especially with the UFC and its current flyweight division.

“Mighty Mouse” will not have any shortage of challenges when he moves to the top Asian promotion, while Askren will feel right at home in UFC’s welterweight division.

With all that in mind, we may be seeing the death of the UFC flyweight division.

LACK OF HOUSEHOLD NAMES

If Johnson does complete his move to ONE Championship, UFC simply does not have enough names to keep the weight class relevant and exciting.

Yes, Henry Cejudo is an incredible fighter and a world-class talent, but the problem is in intriguing matches that fans will readily consume as UFC President Dana White reveals the match-ups.

Most of the fans are still clamouring for a rematch between Cejudo and Johnson – something that the latter has clearly deserved especially in how close their first fight was. And if “Mighty Mouse” decides to leave, then who are next in line for a shot?

More importantly, who among those in line do the fans want to see?

Jussier Formiga appears to be a good choice, but that does not have a chance of headlining a pay-per-view event. Furthermore, he already lost to Cejudo back in 2015 so the storyline just doesn’t really add-up.

The UFC were pushing for Sergio Pettis to possibly be the new face of the division, but the Roufusport fighter has been inconsistent at best as he has alternated wins and losses in his last four outings in the Octagon.

Joseph Benavidez appears to be the real household name in the division, but at 34 years old, the fighter with a 25-5 record might find it difficult to stay relevant for long. Furthermore, he lost his last match to Pettis back in June.

With that said, how can the promotion make this division relevant again? Despite having one of the best fighters ever with Johnson, White and the organisation have found it extremely difficult to market the weight class.

Everyone undoubtedly wanted to chase Johnson, and with him looking to leave, what’s left for the fighters?

EVEN FIGHTERS FEEL IT

Jose “Shorty” Torres is one of the newcomers in the flyweight division. Already featuring in two fights with the UFC, Torres has amassed a 1-1 record.

Many consider him a bright prospect after his impressive debut in the Octagon, slamming Jarred Brooks in UFC Fight Night 131 to win a second-round KO.

However, he fell short against Alex Perez in UFC 227 as he was knocked out via punches.

With an 8-1 professional record, he recently revealed that he fears for the future of his weight class.

Speaking to Body Lock, Torres revealed: “It’s a bad image for the flyweight division.

“If UFC wanted to cut the flyweight division when they had the most dominant UFC champion ever in history in that weight class… what’s [the division] matter now that he’s gone?”

These are certainly tough words to say especially for fighters who put their lives and bodies on the line to earn a living.

The absence of Johnson simply removes the last hurdle between the UFC packing things up and moving on to the next.

Torres went on by saying: “Now, you’ve, in a sense, taken out the best thing we had to offer. You got rid of [Johnson]. Again, a business standpoint: what do the flyweights have to offer? Honestly, I don’t believe [there’s] anything.”

“We think Cejudo’s bumping up to fight T.J. [Dillashaw]. Demetrious Johnson’s gone. Sergio [Pettis] has bumped up. The only flyweight fight that was the main event besides Demetrious Johnson was Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno in Mexico.”

WHAT NOW?

At the moment, maybe the flyweight division will soldier on and hopefully a breakout star will emerge out of the shadows to save the division.

The next fights are likely to determine who gets next shot at Cejudo, with Benavidez going up against Ray Borg at UFC Fight Night 139.

Next is Ben Nguyen facing Wilson Reis at UFC Fight Night 142.

However, if all else fail and fighters begin to just go up in weight class in hopes of getting the big-money fight everyone dreams of, then that would conclusively end the flyweight division.

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