The UFC flyweight division is full of many talented fighters. There are veterans like Joseph Benavidez and promising young stars like Brandon Moreno. While this division had many talented fighters, there has only been one champion. Mighty Mouse has reigned since the division was created back in 2012. That man is Demetrious Johnson. He defeated Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152, winning the inaugural flyweight championship. Since then, nobody has been able to defeat Johnson. With that being said, here five fights that would be great for the UFC to put on in the flyweight division during 2018. This is the 2018 UFC Flyweight Wishlist.
#1: Demetrious Johnson vs. TJ Dillashaw
Last year, TJ Dillashaw was scheduled to fight Cody Garbrandt, who was the bantamweight champion at the time, at UFC 213 on July 8. A couple weeks before the fight, Garbrandt had to withdraw because of a back injury. After his pullout, Dillashaw began to campaign for a shot at the pound for pound number one fighter in the UFC, Demetrious Johnson. If the fight were to materialize, it would have been in Johnson’s backyard of Washington. It also would have been the fight where if Johnson were to win, he would have broken Anderson Silva‘s record for most consecutive title defenses. Johnson refused to fight Dillashaw. He stated that Ray Borg was the clear number one contender. He believed Borg should be next, and that was the fight he received.
Johnson went on to face Borg at UFC 216 on October 7, defeating Borg with what he calls the “Mighty Wiz-Bar” in the final round of the fight, defending his title for the 11th consecutive time and breaking Anderson Silva’s record. One month after Johnson defeated Borg and broke the record, Dillashaw finally got to face his ex-teammate, Garbrandt, at UFC 217 on November 4. It was a close fight during the first round, but in the second round, Dillashaw was able to close the show with a TKO over the champion, becoming the new king at 135 pounds. After the fight he called out Demetrious Jonhson, calling it the only fight that made sense to him.
Champion vs Champion
He says he can make the weight easily, and according to Fox UFC, he recently said, “I’m looking to come in and dethrone him from his legacy. He won’t be able to call himself the ‘GOAT’ anymore”. Ever since both of their recent victories, the fight has been rumored to occur in 2018. Putting these two together inside the Octagon would be a great match-up to see if Demetrious Johnson can be beaten, as he would be facing one of the best bantamweights the UFC has seen in two-time champ, TJ Dillashaw.
#2: Joseph Benavidez vs. Ray Borg
Ever since Joseph Benavidez’s victory over Henry Cejudo at The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions Finale, people believe that he should get his third shot at UFC gold against Demetrious Johnson. He is currerntly riding a six-fight winning streak, with notable wins against Cejudo, Dustin Ortiz, and Tim Elliott. But he has had two chances against Johnson and has lost them both, one by split decision and one by a first round knockout.
The division is short on contenders at the moment, so Benavidez could totally get another shot, but I believe a fight with Ray Borg would be a pretty fun fight, assuming Borg wins his fight next month against Brandon Moreno at UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Medeiros.
Before losing to Johnson in October at UFC 216, Borg was on a two-fight winning streak, with wins over Louis Smolka and Jussier Formiga. This fight probably could have occurred last year before Borg got his shot against Johnson, with the winner getting the title shot, but Benavidez tore his ACL last year and has been inactive ever since, leaving the door wide open for Borg to get the title shot. Putting this fight together in 2018 could potentially give the winner a title shot, considering how shallow the division is, unless a star were to emerge out of nowhere.
#3: Wilson Reis vs. Tim Elliott
Although his most recent outing was at bantamweight at UFC 219, Tim Elliott recently said he wants Wilson Reis back at flyweight. This would be a great match-up. Both these fighters have an amazing ground game, with Wilson Reis having a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Elliott having a blue. Elliott is coming off of a win against Mark de la Rosa at UFC 219 by first-round anaconda choke. Meanwhile, Reis is coming off losses by the hands of Johnson and Cejudo.
Although he is coming off two losses and Elliott is coming off a win, it is a step up in competition for Tim Elliott. This fight would be entertaining for anyone that loves jiu-jitsu as it would be almost guaranteed that these two would battle it out on the ground instead of on the feet. Putting this fight together in 2018 could put the winner in title contention, although both of them have challenger the champion, Elliott losing by decision and Reis losing by third-round armbar. Regardless of title intentions, this fight would definitely be an exciting one.
#4: Sergio Pettis vs. Ben Nguyen
Both Sergio Pettis and Ben Nguyen are very promising up and coming fighters. They could make a big impact on the division in 2018. Neither of the two have faced Demetrious Johnson. If one could put himself into title contention, it would bring up new questions for the champion. Both of these men are brown belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Pettis is coming off a decision loss to Henry Cejudo. However, he still looks to have a lot of potential. He does need to fix some parts of his game. Before losing to Cejudo, Sergio Pettis was riding a four-fight win streak. It included notable wins against John Moraga and Brandon Moreno. Ben Nguyen, on the other hand, is currently 4-1 in the UFC winning his last two against Geane Herrera and Tim Elliott. Nguyen is currently scheduled to fight Jussier Formiga, the fourth-ranked flyweight. Win or lose, this could still be a potential fight later in the year. It would be an exciting fight for the flyweight division that could possibly produce new blood.
#5: Henry Cejudo vs. Brandon Moreno
If Moreno can defeat Ray Borg at UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Medeiros on February 18, seeing him face former title challenger, Henry Cejudo, would be an exciting fight that could happen later in the year. Cejudo is coming off back to back wins over Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis. Meanwhile, Moreno is coming off his first loss since 2012. He lost to Sergio Pettis back in August. Before losing to Pettis, Moreno seemed to be a very promising newcomer, coming off season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter. He made his UFC debut against a ranked opponent in Louis Smolka. Moreno submitted him by way of a guillotine in the first round. He then went on to defeat Ryan Benoit and Dustin Ortiz before falling to Pettis.
For Cejudo, since losing to Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez in 2016, he’s seemed to have improved his game, knocking out Wilson Reis at UFC 215 and winning a decision over Pettis at UFC 218. With a win, Cejudo could earn himself another shot at the champion. If Moreno can get past Borg, and Cejudo, that could put him in a fight with the champ as well. This would give Johnson a new challenge.
There is plenty of talent in the UFC flyweight division. These are five fights that the UFC should think about putting together. Many of these fights have the potential to be very exciting fights and they are definitely realistic fights as well. Expect to either see or hear about these fights possibly happening this year.