On A UFC Weekend, Flyweights Should Take Centre Stage
As with any weekend featuring a UFC card, that event will be first and foremost in the minds of fans and media. However, the best action of the weekend will happen before the card in Philadelphia even kicks off. What I’m talking about of course is the plethora of action we’ll be treated to in the Flyweight division. I have often joked in the past about people throwing the “biggest fight in the _____ division” out like candy on Halloween, but I truly believe this will be the biggest day in the relatively short history of the division. While none of the fights could truly be considered the biggest in the division to this point, the collective talent is outstanding.
We’ll start with the long awaited return of the former 125lb king, BJ Kojima at Shooto – Gig Tokyo 7. After a serious knee injury and a lengthy rehab, Kojima will face Masaaki Sugawara in his attempt to rejoin the elite of the division. BJ’s strength has always been his solid grappling, and as long as his health is anywhere near his pre-injury state he should be able to show those talents off in this fight. The real question then becomes where Kojima will take his services. Few fighters who have been as ingrained in the Shooto organization as BJ find it easy to fight elsewhere, but for the sake of seeing the best possible matches in the division, I do hope he makes the move stateside like compatriot Mamoru Yamaguchi.
Speaking of the man and his afro, Yamaguchi is featured in what I find to be the most intriguing bout of the three big Flyweight clashes this weekend at Tachi Palace Fights 10. He will be taking on Jussier da Silva, the man who last bested Kojima. Mamoru and Formiga are complete opposites in terms of styles, and it will either make for an exciting fight or a very tepid one. I imagine with both competitors vying for a title shot in the near future, we’ll see the former, and likely an impressive finish one way or the other. Yamaguchi prefers to settle things on the feet as much as possible, while da Silva’s grappling is likely the best in the division. The battle for the takedown will be the deciding factor in this bout, as Mamoru’s vast advantage on the feet will become quickly and incredibly evident should he keep things standing, and Formiga’s ability to take his opponent’s back and work the Rear-Naked Choke could make short work of a fighter who has been prone to giving up that position in the past. Regardless of who comes out the victor, they should find themselves next in line for a shot at the TPF Flyweight crown.
And as we continue to segue nicely along, that brings us to the highest profile fight of the weekend. The Tachi Palace Flyweight Title will be on the line as in his first defense of the belt, champion Darrell Montague takes on Ian McCall, who shook up the division with his defeat of Jussier da Silva back in February. Montague is the stronger and slicker striker of the two, mixing combinations to the head and body effortlessly. He also possesses both the footwork and takedown defense which make it difficult for opponents to move the fight from his preferred realm. McCall however has shown the ability to grind opponents with his strong clinch game, which is exactly what he used to stymie Formiga in their bout. I favour Montague over the distance, and cannot fathom how entertaining a striking battle between him and Yamaguchi would be if both managed to win on Saturday.
Luckily, MMA fans will be able to watch the two Tachi bouts live, as Sherdog will be streaming the event on their website. At this point in the sport’s development how an organization can feature some of the best talent in the world (in any division), and not have a TV outlet is beyond me, but as always seems to be the case in MMA the internet will pick up the slack and give us what in my mind are fights that are far more interesting, and likely far more exciting than a UFC card that has been absolutely stripped down to the bone due to injuries. Be sure to check back at tazmma for the post-fight rundown, and what we can expect in the division moving forward.