Heading into 2019, we all guessed there was a fantastic possibility the UFC flyweight division was on its final legs. But when Henry Cejudo knocked out TJ Dillashaw at the initial round of the bout at UFC Fight Night 143, we believed there was an opportunity the branch could be saved, especially since the UFC declared a couple of other battles at 125lbs for other occasions.
Well, it looks like that might not be the case, as the marketing has allegedly released several other flyweights.
In accordance with Cejudo, who talked to the press last weekend at UFC Fight Night 144, the UFC has released top-ranked flyweights Dustin Ortiz and Matheus Nicolau. Additionally, John Moraga was eliminated from the UFC’s official positions, suggesting he too was published. The UFC hasn’t yet commented on if these fighters have indeed officially been released, but generally it is around the fighters to inform the media and fans when that occurs. Almost anytime somebody was removed in the rankings for unknown reasons, though, it is usually because the UFC released them.
Even though the UFC flyweight division is clearly on its way out, the decision to cut a quality fighter such as Ortiz is downright shocking, and dare I say, dumb. Ortiz is coming off of a competitive unanimous decision loss to Joseph Benavidez in UFC Fight Night 143 which was clearly one of the better fights on this card. There’s an opportunity Benavidez understands another crack at Cejudo’s belt, meaning the UFC just cut Ortiz coming off of a title eliminator. And prior to this Benavidez struggle, Ortiz had won three straight fights, including a mind kick knockout over the above Nicolau, a determination win over Alexandre Pantoja — a gifted flyweight who it seems has been spared by the cuts so far — along with also a 15-second KO over Hector Sandoval which was the fastest knockout in UFC flyweight history. If anything, the UFC must have advised Ortiz to move up to bantamweight, which Alex Perez apparently is going to do (in addition to fighters like Said Nurmagomedov). Releasing such a gifted and fighter like Ortiz outright just seems absurd.
In terms of Nicolau, he had won all three of his battles in the Octagon before losing to Ortiz, and even though he did not appear to be a title contender, he still provided valuable depth at 125lbs. He also holds a notable win over Moraga, who it seems has also got the boot. That. Moraga was actually one of the first flyweights the UFC signed back in 2012, and although he had an up-and-down UFC profession, he was considered to be a solid gatekeeper and the ideal test for up-and-comers to shoot on. In his last battle, he had been knocked out by Deiveson Figueiredo, who seems to be one of the few flyweights the UFC nevertheless has on the roster. There is no reason Moraga could not have stuck around and continued to act in a gatekeeper role. It simply seems too harsh to cut a man who was among those few fighters with finishing possible in a division that normally sees fights move the distance.
At this point, it is very weird that which the UFC is doing together with the flyweights. If you ask UFC president Dana White, he states that the promotion hasn’t made a determination on the branch, but it feels like every day we’re seeing a flyweight get cut, and then the next day we see that a flyweight fight reserved. It would be nice if the UFC could create its own mind and cut all of the flyweights or maintain a complete division, because now the fighters have no idea what type of job security they have moving ahead, and that is not fair to anybody.
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