At a minimum, we know that the UFC men’s flyweight division will exist into January 2019, as the promotion officially announced on Monday that Henry Cejudo is set to defend his title against bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 233 in Anaheim. Beyond that, it’s up in the air. Multiple reports peg the men’s 125 lbs division as set to be dissolved, and several flyweights have confirmed their release from the promotion.
UFC president Dana White has been relatively quiet on the future of flyweight, apart from a very vague “we’re working on some things right now” quote earlier this month. He did have something to say in reference to Dillashaw’s recent claim that the UFC “hired” him to kill off the division, as well as flyweight’s lack of fan interest... despite Dana’s efforts to promote it.
“T.J. Dillashaw didn’t do sh-t to the flyweight division,” White said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (via MMA Fighting). “The flyweight division just never took off, it never caught on. Even with a dominant champion like Demetrious, it just never caught on. People didn’t care. I battled for a long time, I tried to keep it alive and obviously, it’s still going on now. We still have fights going on in that division, but we’ll see what the future holds for it.”
It’s no secret that 125 lbs is an unpopular weight class, with many of its ranked fighters buried deep on the prelims, and former champion Demetrious Johnson repeatedly unable to draw in fans on pay-per-view. The only non-title flyweight main events in UFC history are Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall II in 2012 (a tournament rematch that would’ve never happened if not for a scoring error), Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno in August 2017, and Paddy Holohan vs. Louis Smolka in 2015, which has a major asterisk because UFC Dublin had lost its main event and co-main event just days out from fight night, so Holohan vs. Smolka was a last-minute promotion.
Johnson had claimed that Dana White threatened to close down flyweight if he didn’t accept a title fight vs. TJ Dillashaw. Well, Johnson isn’t in the UFC anymore, Dillashaw is fighting for the flyweight belt, but the division is quite conceivably on its way out anyway.