TORONTO – The small man in fighting has, usually unfairly, been forced to take a back seat to the bigger man, no matter the relative merits of them.

In boxing, the greatest prize has long been perceived as the heavyweight championship of the world, even though in modern boxing, there are brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and a vast wasteland beyond them.

 

It's not much different in mixed martial arts, where big men such as middleweight champion Anderson Silva, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre are the UFC's biggest stars and garner the majority of the attention.

The UFC just started a flyweight division this year, and Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson will meet Saturday for the inaugural title in the co-main event of UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre.

It likely won't be long, though, before the 125-pounders quickly become the sport's most exciting division to watch. The smaller men don't necessarily have the thudding power that a heavyweight does – though Benavidez and his team created a mini-controversy by saying he hit as hard as UFC middleweight Michael Bisping – but they fight at a breakneck pace and with the kind of athleticism the big men only wish they had.

[Also: Keeping up with the Joneses will be hard this weekend]

The "feud" between Bisping and Benavidez might have been the best thing that has happened to the flyweights since the division was brought to the UFC earlier this year.

Bisping has always been colorful and outspoken, but he's been brilliant in the build-up to UFC 152 and has largely carried the promotion. When the person running the UFC's Twitter account, which has in excess of 778,000 followers, retweeted Benavidez's claim, Bisping feigned indignation and began taunting Benavidez.

At the final news conference Thursday at a downtown sports bar, Bisping was asked if he'd followed through on his threat to strangle Benavidez, who was seated next to him.

"We've settled our differences," Bisping said, grinning broadly. "He's apologized. He's turned down a fight with my son. We're good now. We're good. He knows his place."

But Benavidez's place Thursday was part-promoter, part-fighter. He and Johnson were forced not only to make the case for themselves as the flyweight division’s first-ever champion, but also to cheerlead for the weight class, which is filled with fighters largely unknown to the casual fan.

Their fight will be significant because there is only one first champion and the fighter who wins it will secure a place in the sport's history. Beyond that, though, the Benavidez-Johnson fight could help to kick-start interest in the entire division and bring it into the mainstream consciousness.

Watching a video of a flyweight fight is like seeing a heavyweight fight on fast forward. Their scrambles are lightning fast and they have the kind of agility more reminiscent of Olympic gymnasts than professional fighters.

[Also: War hero Brian Stann will need to earn his stripes Saturday]

Benavidez knocked out Yasuhiro Urushitani to advance to the finale. Johnson scored a decision win over Ian McCall in June after they had fought to a draw in Australia.

"I really love that fight," said UFC president Dana White, who skipped the final news conference. "Those guys bring it."

They still wouldn't have particularly cut it as main eventers, though. The flyweight title fight was initially supposed to be the main event of UFC 152, until Dan Henderson was injured and UFC 151 was scrapped. Then, Jones was moved from 151 to UFC 152, where he will defend his belt against Vitor Belfort.

Even with Jones-Belfort, the card is not yet sold out. It could have been disastrous with the flyweights atop the card.

That would not have been due to them, but because they're still largely unknown figures.

A good brawl on a high-profile event headlined by one of the company's superstars, though, should change that.

"Having the best fighters at 125 pounds fight each other is going to show that the flyweight division is the toughest challenge," Johnson said. “… I think on Saturday, we will cement how awesome our flyweight division is and how many more great fights there are to come."

[Also: Michael Bisping kicks ‘disrespectful’ fan out of UFC 152 workouts]

Both men fought for the world title at 135 pounds, where they routinely had to face much sturdier, bigger opponents.

Going against men their own size should allow them to show off their full range of skills.

Benavidez has seen enough flyweight fights, though, that he knows his bout, and most others, will be the kind of can’t-miss fights that bring fans out of their seats.

"I'm not too worried about [establishing] the legacy of the flyweights, because I know 100 percent every fight is going to deliver," Benavidez said.

That's a bit of a stretch, because there are few certainties in life, not even with flyweights.

But more often than not, the flyweights are going to put on the most high-paced, high-energy fight on the card. Benavidez and Johnson should prove that on Saturday.

Related video from Yahoo! Sports

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Five concessions owners must make to move closer to NHL labor peace
Video: Fantasy wideouts to sit, start in Week 3
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is tougher for being a mama's boy
Y! Games: Ten must-play downloadable console games for $15 or less

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

UFC champ Demetrious Johnson has some bad news for fellow flyweights

  • 2 days ago
  • 86 views

LAS VEGAS – As Demetrious Johnson inches up on Anderson Silva's all-time record of 10 consecutive UFC title defenses, the prevailing wisdom has suggested he'd eventually best the mark and move on to read news >>

Joseph Benavidez Believes Tim Elliott Could Give Demetrious Johnson Problems | MMAWeekly.com

  • a day ago
  • 9 views

If there’s anyone that can give credible insight into the flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Tim Elliott, it’s Joseph Benavidez. read news >>

TUF 24 Finale Post-Fight Press Conference Replay | MMAWeekly.com

  • 15 hours ago
  • 4 views

Watch the replay of the TUF 24 Finale post-fight press conference, as Demetrious Johnson, Tim Elliott, Joseph Benavidez, and Henry Cejudo fielded questions. read news >>

Joseph Benavidez: Third shot at UFC champ Demetrious Johnson 'only fight I want'

  • 5 hours ago
  • 2 views

LAS VEGAS – Joseph Benavidez said it’s finally time for him to get a third shot at UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

What now, UFC flyweights?

  • 4 hours ago
  • 2 views

Once again, the UFC's flyweights put on a few of the night's best performances at the TUF 24 Finale, yet got none of the bonus awards and few of the accolades on a card that will likely go ignored by read news >>

TUF 24 Finale post-fight facts: Champ Demetrious Johnson closes in on Anderson Silva's record

  • 3 hours ago
  • 2 views

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson again displayed why he’s MMA’s top pound-for-pound fighter when he defeated Tim Elliott in the TUF 24 headliner. In the post-event facts, we discuss the sign read news >>

Joe Silva's Shoes: What's next for Demetrious Johnson and TUF 24 Finale's other winning fighters?

  • an hour ago
  • 2 views

With another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Joe Silva and Sean Shelby’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale’s wi read news >>

TUF 24 Finale video highlights: Demetrious Johnson vs. Tim Elliott

  • 14 hours ago
  • 25 views

Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson got one step closer to a UFC record on Saturday – but it took a little work against a gritty Tim Elliott.Filed under: News, UFC, Videos read news >>

TUF 24 Finale video highlights: Joseph Benavidez vs. Henry Cejudo

  • 14 hours ago
  • 9 views

The grudge match between “TUF 24” coaches Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo lived up to the hype.Filed under: News, UFC, Videos read news >>

Tim Elliott targets bantamweight after quitting in sauna for title fight against Demetrious Johnson

  • 14 hours ago
  • 42 views

LAS VEGAS – The notable size difference between Tim Elliott and champ Demetrious Johnson came at a price for the title challenger. Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>