Heading into 2019, most of us guessed there was a good possibility the UFC flyweight division was on its final legs. But when Henry Cejudo knocked out TJ Dillashaw in the first round of the bout at UFC Fight Night 143, we thought there was a chance the branch could be saved, especially since the UFC declared a few different battles at 125lbs for other events.
Well, it seems like that may not be the case, since the marketing has allegedly released several different flyweights.
In accordance with Cejudo, who talked to the media last weekend at UFC Fight Night 144, the UFC has released top-ranked flyweights Dustin Ortiz and Matheus Nicolau. Additionally, John Moraga has been eliminated from the UFC’s official positions, indicating he too has been published. The UFC has not yet commented if these fighters have indeed officially been published, but normally it is around the fighters to tell the media and fans when that occurs. Almost anytime somebody has been removed from the positions for unknown reasons, however, it’s usually because the UFC released them.
Though the UFC flyweight division is clearly on its way out, the decision to cut an excellent fighter like 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 that was clearly one of the better fights on that card. There is a chance Benavidez understands the next crack at Cejudo’s belt, meaning that the UFC simply cut Ortiz coming from a title eliminator. And before the Benavidez struggle, Ortiz had won three consecutive fights, such as a mind kick knockout over the aforementioned Nicolau, a decision win over Alexandre Pantoja — a talented flyweight who it seems was spared from the cuts so much — along with a 15-second KO over Hector Sandoval that was the fastest knockout in UFC flyweight history. If anything, the UFC must have told Ortiz to maneuver around bantamweight, which Alex Perez seemingly is going to do (in addition to fighters like Said Nurmagomedov). Releasing such a talented and improved fighter such as Ortiz outright just looks absurd.
As for Nicolau, he’d won three of his battles from the Octagon before dropping to Ortiz, and although he didn’t appear to be a title contender, he provided valuable depth at 125lbs. He additionally holds a notable triumph over Moraga, who it appears has also got the boot. That. Moraga was actually among 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 take on. In his last fight, he was knocked out by Deiveson Figueiredo, who appears to be one of the couple flyweights the UFC still has to the roster. There is no reason Moraga could not have stuck around and continued to behave in a gatekeeper role. It just seems too harsh to cut a man who had been one of the few fighters with completing possible in a division that normally sees struggles move the distance.
At this point, it’s very bizarre that which the UFC is performing with the flyweights. If you inquire UFC president Dana White, he says the advertising hasn’t made a determination on the division, but it seems like every day we are seeing a flyweight get cut, and then another day we see a flyweight fight booked. It would be fine if the UFC could create its mind and either cut all the flyweights or keep a full branch, since now the fighters don’t have any idea what kind of job security they have going forward, and that is not fair to anyone.
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