5 Flyweights Who Deserve A Shot At The Title
Top 5 Flyweights Who Deserve A Title Shot
Saturday will be the third time the UFC flyweight belt has been on the line, and it will mark the second time champion Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez have fought for the title. Both fighters are the best the flyweight division has to offer. The first time the two fought it was an extremely close bout, but Johnson walked away with the title.
Things have changed since their first meeting. Johnson has settled into his role as champion, having defended the title twice. Benavidez and Team Alpha Male have added coach Duane Ludwig. Though already a talented fighter, Benavidez has looked unstoppable since the team added Ludwig to the mix.
Now the question is who will walk out of the fight as the flyweight champion? It could go either way, but it is guaranteed that whomever wins will do so by a close margin.
The even bigger question is who will fight for the title after these two flyweight juggernauts battle it out? If Benavidez wins it's going to be easy to determine his next opponent (can you say trilogy?). If Johnson wins, the door is wide open. Though there are plenty of hopefuls in the division, there is not one person that stands out in the crowd. There are plenty of options in the shallow flyweight pool.
Some of the fighters have proven themselves worthy of a title shot while others are still working out a few kinks. Here are the top-five flyweights who should be considered for a title shot, not including Benavidez or Johnson.
5. Tim Elliott
Tim Elliott is still a developing fighter in the UFC. Explosive and a little unorthodox, Elliott can still cause problems for any opponent he fights. He is currently 2-2 in the UFC, losing only to John Dodson and Ali Bagautinov. He has defeated Jared Papazian and Louis Gaudinot.
We have learned more about Elliott in his defeats than his victories. In his losses to Bagautinov and Dodson, we learned Elliott is as tough as nails and that he can throw some of the better fighters off their game with his style of fighting.
Elliott won't be the next individual to fight for a title, seeing how he lost his last fight, but two wins against name opponents could push him right into contention.
4. Ali Bagautinov
He has only competed inside the octagon twice, and Ali Bagautinov has already shown he has title potential. A technically savvy fighter, Bagautinov has the ability to finish anyone in the flyweight division. He is known for his knockout power, but he can also take people down and submit them.
Bagautinov has submitted just as many people as he has knocked out. This shows just how well rounded the fighter truly is. In what is a shallow fighter pool, Bagautinov can make a difference in the flyweight division.
There is still a lot to learn about Bagautinov, which is why he needs a signature win before he gets his shot at the title.
3. Ian McCall
Ian McCall has the privilege of being well-known on his side. Despite having back-to-back loses to Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, he still lingers around the top of the class. Currently ranked third in the UFC rankings, McCall still finds himself only one or two fights away from another shot at the title.
With a very unorthodox personality and a history of success in the division, McCall will continue to find himself in position for a title bid. In his last outing he fought Iliarde Santos and won the fight by decision. In his next outing he will compete against former bantamweight contender Brad Pickett (who is still ranked sixth in the bantamweight division).
Will a victory over a larger man earn McCall a title shot? Only time will tell because who doesn't want to see Johnson/McCall III or McCall/Benavidez II (this guy)?
2. John Lineker
If it wasn't for who is currently ranked No. 1 on this list I would say John Lineker should be next up for a title shot. He is currently riding a four-fight win streak (Phil Harris, Jose Maria, Azamat Gashimov, Yasuhiro Urushitani) and has only lost once inside the UFC (Louis Gaudinot).
Lineker has a lot of power in his hands for a flyweight. Of his 23 victories, 11 of them have come by way of KO/TKO. That is saying something for a flyweight. Looking at his record, three of his six loses have come by submission. He lost to Gaudinot by submission in his UFC debut.
Out of all the flyweights in the UFC right now, Lineker has the best resume for a fight against the winner of Demetrious Johnson/Joseph Benavidez. The chances of him beating either of those fighters is small, but he should at least get a shot since he is riding a four-fight win streak at the moment.
1. John Dodson
There is a lot to say about John Dodson, the TUF 14 winner. He is hyper, fast, strong and just an all-around good fighter. Though he is only one fight removed from his previous title fight, Dodson should be in contention to fight the winner of Saturday's championship bout.
Dodson is one of the top-three flyweights in the UFC at the moment. He fought a close fight against champion Demetrious Johnson in their first bout and might have been winning the fight until the later rounds took place.
Dodson has beaten Tim Elliott (ranked eighth), Jussier da Silva (ranked sixth) and Darrell Montague (who was riding a three fight win-streak at that moment).
Dodson is the only other fighter in the division that could give either Johnson or Joseph Benavidez a run for their money. In the worst case scenario, Dodson and John Lineker should have a title-eliminator to see who should fight the winner of Benavidez/Johnson II.