UFC President Dana White certainly likes to keep fight fans and insiders on their toes. The always-controversial UFC President has made several major announcements in the days leading up to their next big event, UFC 131 “Dos Santos vs. Carwin”. Chief amongst them is a trifecta of sweeping changes: the UFC will be adding a Flyweight division soon, there will now be five-round main event fights with or without a title on the line, and Nick Diaz is now a UFC fighter and has officially vacated his Strikeforce Welterweight Championship. Here are all the details.
The three bits of news have been revealed throughout the week, and the one and only Sherdog provides us with a great recap of the situation. Here’s what we know so far: Nick Diaz is now a UFC fighter, which has caused him to relinquish his Strikeforce Welterweight Championship. So his upcoming championship encounter with Georges St. Pierre will not be a “champion vs. champion” fight.
In addition to that, the UFC has mandated that all future live event main events will be five-round fights. This will likely not apply to “co-main event” fights. However, upcoming main events that have already been signed as three-round fights, such as the upcoming fight between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis, will proceed as agreed upon and be three-round fights. This applies to both Pay-Per-View main events and the UFC’s televised main events, such as their “Fight Night Live” specials.
And finally, word has come down that the UFC is interested in opening up a Flyweight division for fighters that weigh a maximum of 125 pounds. This would be the UFC’s eighth division, and the smallest weight division officially recognized by the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. According to several rumors, the UFC may implement a Flyweight division by the year’s end. Two additional rumors peg Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson as two likely Bantamweight fighters that could possibly drop to Flyweight if/when the weight division is announced.
First and foremost, I’d like to address the reaction that the Flyweight division has been getting. I see a lot of disinterest, I see a lot of people making fun of these lighter-weight fighters and saying that they weigh as much as little girls. I see a lot of internet tough guys saying “I used to weight 125… when I was twelve years old”.
To which I say: get over yourselves. A fighter is a fighter, and it takes a tremendous amount of heart and skill to be a Mixed Martial Artist.
I know I’m getting on the soapbox right now, but I’m just really tired of the lighter-weight fighters not getting the respect they deserve. Talent is talent, regardless of weight class. I measure a fighter by his talent, not by what weight class he competes in. A good fighter will be a good fighter no matter what weight class he competes in. I once held a prejudice against lighter-weight fighters, and the WEC didn’t just shatter it completely, it made me realize that lighter-weight fighters are pound-for-pound the most consistently entertaining fighters on the planet. If the Flyweights come in and start stealing shows left and right with their great fights, then I’ll be more than happy to welcome them to the UFC with open arms.
In regards to Nick Diaz vacating his Strikeforce championship? It is what it is, although I really wish it didn’t have to be this way. Now that it’s officially confirmed that Nick Diaz is a UFC fighter, this had to have been a major acquisition for the UFC. If Strikeforce was still on its own, the UFC would have basically plucked Strikeforce’s best and most dominant champion right out from under them and while he’s in the prime of his career. Whoever takes Diaz’s place as Strikeforce Welterweight Champion will have a long way to go if they want to get out of Diaz’s shadow.
And finally, I don’t have too much to say about five-round non-title fights. I think it’s a good idea, but it’s such a drastic change that I’ll hold off judgment until I see it put into practice.