A Look at the UFC Flyweight Division’s Top 10
The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 bantamweight winner, and current number-one ranked flyweight contender John Dodson came back from a knee injury to fight close friend and fellow top 10 flyweight Zach Makovsky at UFC 187.
Dodson did just enough to take the decision win, with 29-28 on all three judges’ scorecards. It was not a fight with the usual frenetic action fans have come to expect from “The Magician”, but Dodson explained that he had some ring rust after almost a year on the sidelines, and still believes he should be the next one to challenge for Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight title.
Johnson and Dodson have met in the Octagon before, with Johnson outpointing the challenger 48-47, 49-46, and 48-47 back in January 2013.
The son of an African-American father and Filipino-American mother, Dodson first established his presence in the UFC by scoring a TKO over T.J. Dillashaw to win his season of The Ultimate Fighter, a feat made even more impressive considering the fact that Dillashaw is currently the UFC bantamweight champion.
Dodson then promptly dropped down to flyweight, where he established himself as one of the most powerful strikers in the division. His flyweight record now stands at 5-1, his lone loss to the champion.
Even with his latest win being an unexciting and contentious one, Dodson is still arguably the most viable title challenger when you compare him to the rest of the top 10 UFC flyweights:
Joseph Benavidez – The Team Alpha Male standout has already lost to Johnson twice, the second loss via first-round knockout. He has had three wins since, the latest one a decision over John Moraga, on the same card where Dodson beat Makovsky. But getting a third crack at the same champion is rare, so the UFC is probably hesitant to give Joe B. the next shot at this time.
Ian McCall – The former Tachi Palace Fights flyweight champion fought to a draw with Johnson, lost the rematch, then lost to Benavidez. He rallied back with two wins only to get derailed by John Lineker, which was heartbreaking because Lineker isn’t really a flyweight.
Jussier Formiga – The former Shooto South America 123-pound champion has losses to Dodson and Benavidez, but has the chance to establish a three-fight win streak when he meets eleventh-ranked Wilson Reis on UFC Fight Night 67 on May 30.
John Moraga – After his UFC 187 fight against Joseph Benavidez, Moraga now has losses to the current “big three” of Johnson, Dodson, and Benavidez. His title shot against Johnson also seemed to come too early at the time, right after winning his first two UFC fights in untelevised preliminary bouts.
John Lineker – Anyone who misses the flyweight limit 4 out of 8 times isn’t getting a title shot in the UFC, no matter how many fights they win. Lineker has now been forced by the organization to move 10 pounds up to bantamweight.
Kyoji Horiguchi – This Shooto bantamweight champion became a victim of the lack of flyweight contenders. Riding a four-fight win streak against unranked flyweights, the UFC looked around, saw there wasn’t anyone else available, and fed Horiguchi to the champion. The Japanese fighter did better than people expected, but ultimately tapped to an armbar at literally the last possible second, 4:59 of the fifth round.
Henry Cejudo – The Olympic gold medalist has made the flyweight limit only once after failed attempts in prior fights. His win over Chris Cariaso was a good start, but the UFC will probably give him a few more fights to prove that he isn’t another John Lineker.
Zach Makovsky – The former Bellator bantamweight champion and RFA flyweight champion, “Fun Size” lost a fight to Dodson many felt he should have won. Also sporting a loss to Formiga, Makovsky needs to build a solid win streak to become part of the UFC title conversation.
Chris Cariaso – A Filipino-American who also became a victim of the dearth of contenders. A three-fight win streak against unranked flyweights gave “Kamikaze” the dubious distinction of tapping to a Demetrious Johnson kimura in the second round. The loss to Cejudo followed.
If the UFC still chooses to book a number-one contender fight, Dodson could face either Benavidez, the winner of Formiga vs. Reis, or Cejudo. But if Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is ready to throw down, a rematch with the Fil-Am Dodson is the fight to make.
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