Combined the four men -- Ian McCall, Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez, Yasuhiro Urushitani -- involved in the flyweight tournament to determine the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) first 125-pound kingpin weigh less than the two behemoths who main evented UFC 141 three months ago, Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem.
In fact, the heavyweights have nearly 30 pounds on the collective flyweights.
But, talent isn't measured in pounds. And the point was never more evident than tonight (Mar. 2, 2012) at the Allphones Arena. After World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) folded and its feather- and bantam-weight divisions were moved into the Octagon, the 125-pounders were the last frontier for the UFC.
Sure, the super heavyweight division isn't represented in the company, but the talent pool is so shallow it should be considered more of a talent puddle. Flyweights, on the other hand, have been steadily growing in numbers both across the Pacific in Japan and stateside.
At UFC on FX 2 in Sydney, the aforementioned quartet introduced UFC fans to their division, giving them their first glimpse at the speed and technique flyweights have to offer.
The appetizer was wolfed down. We're ready for the main course.
The first semifinal bout, between Johnson and McCall, was a thing of beauty. "Uncle Creepy" entered the UFC with a mountain of hype preceding him. Stepping inside the Octagon as the world's number one flyweight after clearing out the ranks in Tachi Palace Fights (TPF), McCall was a no-brainer signing for the world's premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.
His unique personality and even more unique facial hair have made him an easy fan favorite but he had a stiff test in front of him in the form of "Mighty Mouse." Johnson made the drop from bantamweight after a losing effort to Dominick Cruz and was eager to square off against fighters more his size. He is, after all, only 5'3."
Their fight was a back and forth battle with a couple of rounds nearly too close to call. McCall pulled away in the third round and dominated his opponent on the mat, taking his back at one point and throwing hammerfists like a madman.
Johnson, for his part, staggered McCall in the opening round while also mixing his striking and takedowns seamlessly to keep the former TPF champion on his toes during the first 10 minutes. After three hard-fought rounds, their fate was left up to the judges.
In a decision immediately debated on the blogosphere and Twitter, Johnson earned the majority decision and a ticket to the flyweight championship bout. Despite losing, something tells me McCall will end up fighting for the title sooner rather than later. He's a star in the making and the UFC knows it.
The second bout saw WEC stalwart Benavidez take on Octagon debutee Urushitani. The opening round belonged solely to the Team Alpha Male product and the former bantamweight title contender nearly finished off his opponent in the closing seconds with a rear naked choke.
When the second round opened up, a high kick from the Japanese fighter was countered with a huge right that dropped Urushitani like a ton of bricks. The counter punch helps dispel the age-old belief that power shrinks as weight goes down. Even at the smaller 125 pounds, Benavidez had no problem dropping his opponent to earn his fourth straight win. Some ground and pound later and we have our title bout set.
The two former WEC standouts will face off to determine the promotion's first 125-pound at some point in 2012. Based on the performances they put on in Australia, the pace they set and the fireworks provided, the UFC would be remiss not to have the bout on a future Fox card to give the fledgling division the most exposure possible. Fans need only to see flyweights in action to become instant proponents of the new weight division.
After the 20 minutes and 11 seconds of flyweight action this evening, it should be no surprise fans want more. Plans for the division were announced over a year ago and it seemed at every other post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White would echo the same response when asked when the 125-pounders would step inside the Octagon.
Soon, he would say. Well, soon is now. And it couldn't have been more of a success.
Welcome to the UFC, flyweights. We can't make to get better acquainted.
UPDATE: At the post-fight press conference, Dana White revealed the scorecards in the McCall/Johnson fight were mishandled and the proper decision should have been a draw which would have led to a sudden death fourth round. As it stands, the two flyweights will do battle once again in the coming months to decide who will face off against Benavidez. An awful screw up by the judges, but the silver lining is ... we get that amazing fight again.