Heading into 2019, we all figured there was a fantastic chance the UFC flyweight division was on its final legs. But when Henry Cejudo knocked out TJ Dillashaw in the initial round of their bout at UFC Fight Night 143, we believed there was a chance the division could be spared, especially since the UFC announced a couple of other battles at 125lbs for different occasions.
It looks like that might not be the case, as the marketing has reportedly released several other flyweights.
According to Cejudo, who spoke to the press this past weekend at UFC Fight Night 144, the UFC has launched top-ranked flyweights Dustin Ortiz and Matheus Nicolau. In addition, John Moraga was eliminated from the UFC’s official positions, suggesting he also was released. The UFC hasn’t yet commented on if these fighters have really officially been released, but normally it is up to the fighters to inform the media and fans when that occurs. Almost anytime somebody has been removed from the rankings for unknown reasons, however, it is generally because the UFC released them.
Even though the UFC flyweight division is obviously on its way out, the decision to cut an excellent fighter such as Ortiz is downright shocking, and dare I say, dumb. Ortiz is coming from 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 the next crack at Cejudo’s belt, meaning the UFC just cut Ortiz coming off of a title eliminator. And before the Benavidez fight, Ortiz had won three straight fights, including a head kick knockout over the aforementioned Nicolau, a determination win over Alexandre Pantoja — a gifted flyweight who it seems has been spared by the cuts so much — along with also a 15-second KO over Hector Sandoval which was the fastest knockout in UFC flyweight history. If anything, the UFC should have advised Ortiz to maneuver up to bantamweight, which Alex Perez seemingly is going to do (along with fighters such as Said Nurmagomedov). Releasing such a talented and fighter such as Ortiz outright just seems absurd.
In terms of Nicolau, he’d won three of his fights from the Octagon before losing to Ortiz, and even though he didn’t seem to be a title contender, he provided valuable depth at 125lbs. He additionally holds a notable win over Moraga, who it seems has also got the boot. That. Moraga was really among the initial flyweights the UFC signed back in 2012, and even though he had an up-and-down UFC profession, he was still considered to be a good gatekeeper and the ideal test for up-and-comers to shoot on. In his last fight, he had been knocked out by Deiveson Figueiredo, who appears to be one of the few flyweights the UFC still has to the roster. There’s no reason Moraga couldn’t have stuck around and continued to behave in a gatekeeper role. It simply seems too harsh to reduce a guy who was one of the few fighters with finishing possible in a division that generally sees struggles go the distance.
At this point, it is very weird that which the UFC is doing with the flyweights. If you ask UFC president Dana White, he states the promotion has not made a decision on the branch, but it feels like every day we are seeing a flyweight get cut, and then another day we see a flyweight fight reserved. It would be nice if the UFC will create its mind and cut all the flyweights or maintain a complete branch, because right now the fighters have no clue what type of job security they have going forward, and that’s not fair to anybody.
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