What now, UFC flyweights?
You know a couple things for sure when you sit down to write a column about the UFC’s flyweight division. For starters, you know not many people will read it. (Not unless you can figure out a way to get Conor McGregor’s name in the headline, which, if you tried hard enough, you probably could.)
You also know that, sooner or later, you’re going to get around to discussing the same old questions. Such as, is UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson the best, least appreciated fighter on the planet? Also, is the 125-pound class itself a promotional dead end, some specialized genre appreciated by the hardcores and the fighting aficionados, but willfully ignored by everyone else?
And then there’s the big question: What does all that mean, and what are we supposed to do about it?
The UFC, to its credit, has tried just about everything. It’s courted the purists and the masses. It’s peddled both dominance and competitive rivalries. It’s sold us on Johnson as the pound-for-pound best (even if it also reserved the right to slap that label on someone else a few weeks later). It geared an entire season of a reality show around producing a champion of champions for the big (little) champ to fight.
And, at least inside the cage, it worked. Johnson’s (25-2-1 MMA, 13-1-1 UFC) title defense against “Ultimate Fighter” winner Tim Elliott (13-7-1 MMA, 2-5 UFC) at Saturday night’s TUF 24 Finale in Las Vegas was more competitive and more fun than we had any right to expect. Elliot threw some new wrinkles at the champ. Johnson was actually forced to search for answers to a few unexpected questions.
In the end the favorite won and the underdog lost, though he got an atta-boy and a pat on the back on his way out the door. The order was maintained, though threatened just enough to give you an appreciation for how it got that way in the first place. All…