“[The UFC told me] Go down there, close the division out, take the belt, and we’ll take care of you.”
That’s the UFC’s plan, according to current bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw, who spoke to Ariel Helwani on his upcoming ‘superfight’ with flyweight belt-holder, Henry Cejudo.
Their bout will be at 125-pounds, and could be the last time we see a flyweight match-up in mixed martial arts’ premier fight organisation, with all signs pointing towards the division being scrapped if Dillashaw beats Cejudo at UFC 233 on January 26.
Most recently, Dana White avoided any specifics over whether the division would be dissolved after the UFC traded former champion Demetrious Johnson to the ONE Championship for welterweight star, Ben Askren.
White, speaking on the FS1 post-fight show in Denver, explained the promotion is “working on some things right now” and that the flyweight division would move forward as usual.
“Dillashaw wants to win two belts like there are five or six guys who have done it. He wants to do it. Cejudo is absolutely fine fighting at that weight instead of going to 135 [pounds] so we made it.”
But the organisation has reportedly been thinning their flyweight roster with a view to eventually shutting it down, and having Dillashaw go down to 125, win, and then move right back up to bantamweight, is likely the cleanest break they can make.
The UFC have always struggled to promote their flyweight division. Even Johnson, who was the organisation’s most dominant champion before finally losing, failed to break into mainstream consciousness the way other, less successful stars have.
“If you look at it, the kid broke the record for the most title defences ,” White told TMZ Sports at the time of Johnson’s trade.
“I feel like he never really got the love and the respect that he deserved from the fans. I don’t know if he was always thrilled being here.”
And if they couldn’t make Johnson work, it’s hard to see them turning Cejudo, or any other flyweight for that matter, into a marketable star.