The flyweight division is not one of the more popular weight classes in MMA...at least here in the states. In fact, in North America only King of the Cage and Tachi Palace Fights regularly employ enough 125lb fighters to crown a champion in the class. The division is extremely shallow at this point due to the fact that major promotions have yet to expand to include the class. Once the UFC creates their own flyweight division, I expect the class will fill out to promotion specs at around twenty and a few current bantamweights have already expressed interest in dropping down. Dana White has stated that the flyweight class will make its UFC debut in 2012 and with major promotion exposure more fighters will emerge.
In the meantime, Tachi Palace Fights presents a card on August 5th stacked with flyweight talent including Mamoru Yamaguchi vs. Jussier da Silva, Ulysses Gomez vs. Derek Bittner, and a title fight between Ian McCall vs. champion Darrell Montague.
Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-5-3)
Fight Matrix Rank: 1
Yamaguchi has a pretty nice collection of championship belts. In the 12 years he's been competing, the Shooto mainstay has won the promotion's 132lb and 123lb straps, as well as coming over to the US and winning the King of the Cage 125lb title. Yamaguchi can validate his #1 ranking with wins over Yasuhiro Urushitani, Yuki Shojo, Masaaki Sugawara, Kiyotaka Shimizu, and Fumihiro Kitahara. Yamaguchi is primarily a counter striker with excellent kicks and punches in his arsenal, resulting in 4 KOs in his current 6 fight win streak. His matchup against Da Silva at TPF 10 will be an awesome battle that you won't want to miss.
Yasuhiro Urushitani (18-4-6)
Fight Matrix Rank: 2
Urushitani is the current Shooto 123lb Champ and has consistently been ranked in the top 10 over the course of his 10 year career. The 34 year old striker has split a pair of unanimous decisions against Yamaguchi, and has other notable wins over Kiyotaka Shimizu, Ryuichi Miki (twice), Daniel Lima and Masatoshi Abe. Urushitani is not a big finisher having only 4 stoppages in his 18 wins, but he does put on exciting fights.
Ian McCall (10-2-0, WEC 1-2)
Fight Matrix Rank: 4
McCall made his mark in the flyweight division by recently defeating former #1 ranked Jussier da Silva in February of this year by decision. McCall had previously fought in the WEC at 135 but made the decision to drop down after a loss to Dominick Cruz. It turned out to be the right move for Uncle Creepy as he is now in line for a shot at Tachi champion Darrell Montague and possibly setting himself up for a return to Zuffa in the coming year.
Kiyotaka Shimizu (8-3-2)
Fight Matrix Rank: 5
Shimizu is currently the Flyweight King of Pancrase and fantastic grappler whose youth (27) and athleticism will serve him well if he makes the exodus stateside once the UFC opens its flyweight doors. Shimizu has quick takedown defense and punches that he combines with technical transitions making him a very well rounded fighter.
Yuki Shojo (11-5-2)
Fight Matrix Rank: 7
Shojo is another great flyweight fighter in the Shooto organization. HE is currently on a three fight win streak and his resume includes wins over Ryuchi Miki, Masatoshi Abe, and current Shooto champ Yasuhiro Urushitani. Shojo has only been stopped once in his career and although he has quite a few decisions (7 of his 11 wins), he is an exciting and active striker.
Jussier da Silva (9-1-0)
Fight Matrix Rank: 8
Da Silva is the former Shooto South American champion who is now fighting in the Tachi Palace Fights promotion. ‘Formiga' vaulted to the top of the flyweight class in 2009 when he defeated then Shooto World Champ Shinichi Kojima in a non-title fight. He unfortunately had his 9 fight unbeaten streak snapped this past February after Ian McCall defeated him by UD. Da Silva's next bout will be against Shooto vet Mamoru Yamaguchi, an extremely tough fight coming off a loss. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, the 26 year old da Silva will be one of the first flyweights to fight in the UFC, guaranteed.
Darrell Montague (9-1-0)
Fight Matrix Rank: 10
Montague is a very fast and agile striker with better than average takedown defense. The Tachi Palace Fights Champ upset Ulysses Gomez to win the title and displayed the fantastic movement that earned him the nickname ‘Mongoose'. The 23 year-old's only loss was to current Strikeforce featherweight Robert Peralta two years ago. Montague will defend his title against Ian McCall at TPF 10 and has a long career ahead of him, eventually in the UFC.
Mitsuhisa Sunabe (13-6-4)
Fight Matrix Rank: 9
Sunabe is one of the more heavy handed flyweights fighting out of the Pancrase promotion. He made a splash early in his career by defeating Rambaa Somdet and has recently battled Pancrase champ Kiyotaka Shimizu in a 1-1-1 trilogy. Sunabe is one of the taller flyweights around at 5'8" and uses his length effectively against his opponents. The UFC probably won't pass on a fighter like Sunabe if the opportunity presents itself.
Shinichi Kojima (10-4-5)
Kojima held the Shooto 123lb title for four years until he had to forfeit the belt due to an ACL injury. The 32 year old has excellent grappling and submission skills to go along with solid standup. Kojima's classic battles with Mamoru Yamaguchi and Yasuhiro Urushitani are prime examples why the flyweight class deserves more respect. He hasn't fought since a 2009 loss to Jussier da Silva, but I imagine that if the UFC offered him a contract he would jump at the opportunity based on his interest in the WEC's previous plans to open up the flyweight class.