UFC’s Flyweight Division

The UFC’s Flyweight Division is often viewed as one of the weakest in the company and it’s not helped by the fact that Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has made numerous fights in his five year title reign noncompetitive due to his greatness. However, his greatness cannot merely overshadow the shallowness of the division.

This past Saturday, Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno provided the light at the end of the tunnel and a glimpse of the inevitable changing of the guard. Along with Ray Borg, these three are leading a youth revolution in a division desperately in need of it.

The Little Brother – UFC’s Flyweight Division

When your older brother is a UFC fighter, comparisons are inevitable. When your older brother is Anthony Pettis, living up to these comparisons is improbable. Sergio Pettis has been under pressure due to his older brother’s success since he joined the UFC in November 2013. He has always been a good fighter, but when your last name is “Pettis,” good doesn’t cut it.

Pettis is a 23 year-old with a 7-2 UFC record (16-2 overall), who, until this past Saturday, was battling the “bust” label for many fans. Firstly, if you label a 23 year-old with Pettis’ resume, you need to taper your expectations because no one can live up to them. Secondly, this is no longer an argument.

Pettis surgically defeated Brandon Moreno (via unanimous decision) with a tactical approach and excellent submission defense. In the first round (in which I had Pettis losing 10-8), Moreno took his back, locked in a deep body triangle, and went for the kill. Attempt after attempt, Moreno could not finish Pettis and this was due to Sergio’s maturation.

When Pettis fought Alex Caceres in January 2014, he made one mistake in the third round and was submitted with 21 seconds remaining. As demonstrated against Moreno, Pettis is no longer beating himself and that is the first step in becoming a great fighter.

The first person to make a mistake in a fight normally loses. Fighters are too skilled today to miss a moment of capitalization. The best fighters minimize their errors and are difficult to force into bad scenarios.

Sergio Pettis got out of his own way Saturday and has taken that step. He is not elite yet, but he is no longer just Anthony Pettis’ little brother.

The Submission Artist – UFC’s Flyweight Division

Brandon Moreno is also a 23 year-old fighter who has amassed a record of 14-4, with 9 of his victories coming via submission. He may have lost this weekend, but he proved that he more than belongs at the top of this division.

Moreno’s striking is creative, but technically speaking it is rudimentary. His wrestling is nonexistent, yet he STILL went five rounds with Pettis. How? Two things stood out to me about Moreno during this fight that allowed him to compete: his heart and his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

It is no secret that his BJJ skills are elite and the first round was evident of that. Although he could not finish the fight, he made it abundantly clear that Pettis wanted no part of him on the mat. Secondly, this kid got his face beaten in for the next four rounds and he kept coming back for more.

After the first round, Pettis had figured him out on the feet and proceeded to surgically defeat him. However, Moreno kept throwing strikes from awkward angles trying to deceive Pettis. Even late in the fifth round, Moreno managed to land some shots and had another opportunity on the ground. Both opportunities were thwarted by Pettis, but the potential is there.

Moreno needs to develop a wrestling game so his takedowns come more frequently. On the ground he is exceptional; on the feet he can survive; in between is nonexistent. Developing his transition game immediately make him a threat in this division.

The Next In Line – UFC’s Flyweight Division

Ray Borg was not featured on the card this past Saturday. The 24 year-old is featured in the headlining fight of UFC 215 against Mighty Mouse on September 9th.

Borg fights out of Jackson-Wink and is a well-rounded fighter with outstanding grappling. He will look to set traps with his striking and confuse the champ similarly to how Tim Elliott did last December (except win the fight).

As mentioned, the greats don’t make many mistakes so for Borg to confuse Johnson, it will take an otherworldly performance. Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it going to happen? Absolutely not.

None of these three are quite there yet. Johnson is the best of the best and no one is at his level as a martial artist. These three fighters are the future of the division (ranked in the top seven of the division and all 24 and under) and expect one of them to be the one to dethrone Mighty Mouse in the coming years

UFC’s Flyweight Division

Like Andrew’s writing? Check out his previous column, highlighting the next step for Jon Jones!

 

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