The UFC Will Shut Down the Men’s Flyweight Division by the End of 2018, With Most Fighters to be Cut From the Promotion…
In news that will surprise nobody, the UFC flyweight division is set to be shut down by the end of this year. The cat was let out of the bag when Demetrious Johnson was sensationally traded to ONE for their former welterweight champion Ben Askren. Now it’s set to be permanently dissolved, with most fighters to be dropped from the roster.
The UFC flyweight division was first announced back in 2011, with a four-man competition deciding who would be the first champion. Demetrious Johnson won the title way back in at UFC 152 in 2012, holding it for six years until he lost to Henry Cejudo at UFC 227.
Fans have never truly warmed to the division, preferring to watch the heavier weight classes. How much of this can be blamed on Demetrious Johnson is a contentious subject, but the UFC has been losing interest in it for the past couple of years. Now two fighters have reacted to being cut and have confirmed the division is being shut down.
Im the 1st to be let go. I didnt get to finish my UFC contract with 2 fights left because they are cutting most of my division n not giving some of us a chance to bump up n prove ourselves like myself. So now it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. Good luck small guys! pic.twitter.com/lUMijsRoDm
— Jose Shorty Torres (@ShortyTorresMMA) November 7, 2018
Allegedly, flyweight fighters who are coming off of the back of a win will be offered the chance to move up to bantamweight, because most UFC contracts stipulate that the fighter cannot be cut if their previous appearance resulted in victory. However, if you lose then good luck: you’re probably out. The likes of Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres and Jared Brooks have already been dropped. Torres tweeted:
“I’m the 1st to be let go. I didnt get to finish my UFC contract with 2 fights left because they are cutting most of my division n not giving some of us a chance to bump up n prove ourselves like myself. So now it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. Good luck small guys!”
BREAKING: We're hearing the #UFC men's flyweight division is 100% being dissolved, likely done by the end of 2018.
THE KICKER: Not all flyweights are being asked to move up to bantamweight. They're just getting cut. Unreal.
We'll update you as we receive more info.
— FloCombat (@FloCombat) November 7, 2018
However, nobody is safe. Jarred Brooks is actually coming off the back of a win and is 2-2 in the UFC, with an overall record of 14-2. You’d normally expect him to be given one more shot, but the promotion ruthlessly cut him. He was not impressed, releasing a video which we’ve provided the external link to below, via his Twitter, if you fancy watching him rant for 13 minutes. Amongst many things, he said:
“I am very confused, if this is mixed martial arts, and it’s mixed, should there be every weight class? Why put in a weight class and have it for six years with one champion – one dominant champion – just like Jose Aldo. You got a dominant champion – Demetrious Johnson – getting beat. Tell me that isn’t what makes a division.”
Meanwhile, current champion Henry Cejudo basically confirmed to Joe Rogan that the UFC are working on a match-up between him and bantamweight king TJ Dillashaw. So the first ever man to become an Olympic gold medallist and UFC champion won’t be too bothered.
— Jarred Brooks (@The_monkeygod) November 7, 2018
To be fair both sides have a point. While the fighters can feel rightly aggrieved that they’re being ditched, the UFC is a business and the division doesn’t fit their profile. Brooks mentions Asian promotion ONE as being the real place for martial artists, and he’s right. The UFC’s loss is ONE’s gain, as they’ll no doubt sign several of these fighters and make in-roads into the US market.
However, at the end of the day, the UFC doesn’t want the division because there is no mainstream interest amongst fans. Like it or not, if you don’t sell pay-per-views you’re just not profitable. It’s very interesting that Brooks compares Johnson to Jose Aldo because that actually damages his argument. The UFC was delighted when Conor McGregor came along and stimulated interest in a division that Aldo dominated for years, with little mainstream interest.
Meanwhile, at bantamweight, you’ve recently had grudge matches between Dominick Cruz and Team Alpha Male, as well as TJ and Dillashaw and Team Alpha Male. For the US market, there needs to be a narrative. The home of Hollywood loves drama and excitement. No flyweight fighter has ever created that interest. Sure they are martial artists and competitors first and foremost, but they’re naive if they don’t get they blew an opportunity for themselves.