Yesterday, I had a little muse on the reasons were all so obsessed with and impressed by Heavyweight fighters, but especially in light of some of the awesome matches we saw at the weekend and in line with my egalitarian view of the sport, I felt that some credit for the little guys was in order.
While the likes of Vitor Belfort and Jacare Souza were the recipient of most attention last week in Brazil, I actually enjoyed the two flyweight matches more. Two rounds of awesome positional Juijitsu by Jussier da Silva and a Hail Mary comeback round by Chris Cariaso which could so easily have sneaked a win, or at least a draw started off our brace of Flyweight action.
The second flyweight bout saw John Lineker finally living up to his ‘Hands of Stone’ moniker with a surprisingly confident performance against the considerably larger Azamat Gashimov, which resulted in several knockdowns and a beautiful second round KO.
For ages, I’ve heard a certain portion of the MMA fanbase decry the Flyweights as too small to be entertaining (such delightful comments as ‘I won’t pay to watch midgets fight…’) or at best grudgingly admit their technical prowess while following that admission with a dismissive ‘but there’s no real excitement or finishes.’
Is anyone still saying that?
Of course they are, because some people are committed bigots, even in the face of contrary evidence.
Some will point to Flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson’s string of decision victories, while conveniently forgetting that at the top level MMA is decided by such slim margins that decisions are more the rule than the exception. Georges St Pierre is on a run of six decision victories, while Ben Henderson’s current run stands at seven. Does that mean that Welterweights and Lightweights are by default dull?
Indeed, decisions are Johnson’s style, all elusive boxing and tactical wrestling. In his 7-2-1 run under the Zuffa banner, in the WEC then the UFC, he has been involved in one bout which produced a finish – his submission victory over Damacio Page.
It doesn’t follow that Flyweights are dull. Even in the year or so since the UFC initiated its 125lb division, we’ve seen plenty compelling brawls and awesome finishes, from John Dodson’s KO of Jussier da Silva, John Moraga’s finishes of Chris Cariaso and Ulysses Gomez and Joseph Benavidez’ knockouts of Yasuhiro Urushitani and Darren Uyenoyama.
Now, if you missed all that because you don’t like ‘jumping midgets’, weren’t interested in catching the prelims and/or couldn’t be bothered checking out fighters who hadn’t experienced the full glow of the UFC’s promotional machine, then your loss…
… but I’d recommend looking out for the Flyweights in future. Sure, it’s not like continents colliding with bad intentions or larger than life cartoon characters in the way that heavyweight fights are, but if you’re any fan of mixed martial arts then you will definitely appreciate the pace, the cardio, the technique and the finishes that these guys produce.
Also, flyweights are the only weight class of fighter that don’t make me – as a five foot, five inches tall Scot – feel small. I’ll always love them for that.
I’ll also never forgive them for making me feel bad about being that height and walking around at 170lbs, but so long as they keep up with the brilliant matches (and they will) I’ll let them off with it…