What a difference a year makes in the eyes of the fans of the sport and in the UFC. Last year around this time, Zuffa, the parent company to the UFC, announced that it was going to fold the WEC into the UFC and that we would now have seven UFC champions with the addition of featherweights and bantamweights.
One little nugget that was mentioned was that flyweights, too, would be coming to the UFC. The question of when the 125lb fighters come over to the UFC is one that’s been circulating for a while.
And thus, this week’s question from Brent Riggs III asks, “Do you think that the addition of a flyweight division in the UFC is a good idea right now, or will it simply thin out bantamweight and leave two shallow weight classes?”
That’s a very interesting thought as to why the UFC might not have added the division. After all there are fighters in the bantamweight division such as Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez who have stated they would likely drop to the flyweight division should the UFC create one.
But should we expect a mass exodus of fighters to that division right away? There’s been a fairly small (no pun intended) number of lightweight fighters who have made the transition from lightweight down to featherweight. But nothing overwhelming.
To get an idea of how this would impact the divisions, we first should look at how many fighters are actually in each division in the UFC. These numbers were pulled directly from UFC.com and as such may be off by a couple fighters in either direction.
Light Heavyweight: 35
So even if 20% of the bantamweight fighters left, that still leaves that division with just as much talent as heavyweight. Is it really thinning out the division in that case?
Right now pundits are stating how stacked the UFC’s heavyweight division is, and yet we are talking about how thin bantamweight and even featherweight is at the moment. This seems rather backwards due to the fact that Strikeforce, albeit a Zuffa property, arguably still has just as stacked a division.
The real answer isn’t that the division would be thinned out, it’s a question of developing the talent AND showcasing that talent. Right now as stated there is a complaint about how thin the divisions are for lack of challengers. But it takes time for the fans to start to follow and enjoy watching the smaller guys fight.
One would think that this would be a lot easier, especially given the news that the UFC is looking to put on a whopping 34 shows next year. The key is that these fighters will need to fight more often if possible in order to develop a following.
A great example is Roger Huerta. He fought five times in a year for the UFC and rose to stardom because of it. Granted he did win all five of those fights and at that point was on an eleven fight win streak, but he was active and people remembered him.
Give it time and it will develop. So to answer the question, no I don’t think it will make the bantamweight division too shallow. I think it would just force the UFC to do everything they can to put the spotlight on those guys a bit more.