Joseph Benavidez def. Alex Perez at TUF 28 Finale: Best photos
LAS VEGAS – The UFC still has a flyweight champion, and the title will be on the line next month despite rumors of the division’s imminent demise.
Friday night in Las Vegas after the TUF 28 Finale, UFC President Dana White said there currently is no plan for the promotion to dissolve the division – but admitted things still may be up in the air.
A long-discussed flyweight champ vs. bantamweight champ superfight will take place in the UFC 233 main event when bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw (16-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) and flyweight titleholder Henry Cejudo (13-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) meet for Cejudo’s 125-pound belt. Dillashaw will attempt to become the UFC’s latest simultaneous two-division champion.
UFC 233 takes place Jan. 26 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card will air on pay-per-view following prelims likely for ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.
But after that?
“It is murky – it is murky right now,” White told MMAjunkie. “Obviously we still have fights going on – Cejudo is going to fight Dillashaw, and we’ll just see how this thing plays out.”
White said part of the trouble is that fans never seemed to gravitate to the division, even though it had a longstanding champion in Demetrious Johnson, who recently left the UFC to sign with ONE Championship.
Johnson was the promotion’s only champion until he was upset by Cejudo earlier this year by split decision.
“That division is a division that I battled for for a very long time, and defended, and said, ‘Are you people crazy? How do you not like these fights? How do you not like the champ?’” White said. “But it never really stuck. It never really became a popular division – even with such a dominant champion. Even with an incredibly dominant champion, it didn’t do it.”
Friday night, two-time title challenger Joseph Benavidez (26-5 MMA, 13-3 UFC) beat Alex Perez (21-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in a flyweight fight at the TUF 28 Finale. And given his title losses were to Johnson and he has a win over the current champ in Cejudo, he’s hoping the division sticks around so he can have a title shot.
White said fighters like Benavidez still would have a home in the UFC, even if flyweight is disbanded.
“Even if it goes away, guys like Benavidez could move up a weight class, too – ’cause a lot of those guys cut a lot of weight,” White said.
But it sounds like if 125 is history, White says it’s much to do with fan demand.
“They never pulled ratings – they never pulled pay-per-views,” White said of the flyweights. “It wasn’t what it should’ve been, in my opinion. I don’t know (why people didn’t take to it). To say that people who are true fight fans aren’t fans of the smaller guys – Demetrious Johnson, he would literally go out and make himself finish people. The guy was talented and everything else, but it just never stuck.”
But as for anything definitive?
“There’s no plan for anything right now,” White said. “This fight’s going to happen with Cejudo and Dillashaw and we’ll see where we go from there.”
For more on UFC 233, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.