On February 3, 2009, the WEC announced they would be adding a flyweight division set at 125-pounds, however the division was never instituted.
When the UFC and WEC came together UFC president, Dana White, indicated that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would likely add a flyweight division in the future. The UFC flyweight division was officially announced in 2011 with the inaugural champion being decided by a four man tournament, won by Demetrious Johnson who became the organization’s first and only champion until Henry Cejudo.
History shows that even in the boxing world, smaller fighters fighting at 115 to 125-pounds never received the attention they deserved. They have always been faster, more athletic, more dominant. However, for some reason, people are tuned into the bigger weight classes and knockouts. With the flyweight division growing and Mighty Mouse beginning his title run, the division took off, gaining ground and adding a variety of different talented men over the years.
Since the divisions inception, there has been two guys that were always seen as the top guys in the division: Mighty Mouse and Joseph Benavidez. Benavidez did drop two fights to Mighty Mouse, and soon after that, finding challengers became difficult for Johnson. There was a huge amount of competition and title challengers waiting to get their crack at the flyweight champion. As they stepped up to the plate, Johnson dominated.
It’s clear that UFC President was never a huge advocate for the 125-pound division, having booked them only a hand full of times to main event fight cards. Many will say that one of the reasons the division never was able to gain popularity, was due to the UFC’s lack of promotion. Others will say Mighty Mouse wasn’t a marketable champion.
As of 2018, Johnson is no longer on the UFC roster and is headed to ONE Championship, a place where he is expected to be appreciated and loved. ONE is said to have the best flyweights in the world. Today, the UFC has a new flyweight king: Henry Cejudo, a young Olympic gold medalist. He’s willing to call people out and call his shots, everything the former champion did not do.
Although there has been talk of the UFC getting rid of the flyweight division, Henry Cejudo vs TJ Dillashaw was booked for the undisputed 125-pound strap. If TJ is able to make history and become the third man to hold two titles simultaneously, it’s possible that the UFC could kill the flyweight division. Now that Mighty Mouse is gone though, the division has a new chapter and an open line of contenders hungry for their shot at gold.
With the UFC starting their five year deal with ESPN, the more divisions they have, the better. They are able to create more stars and produce more fights with the new following they will receive. Regardless of the outcome at UFC Brooklyn, the UFC should continue their momentum of promoting the 125-pound division.