“Skill,” “speed” and “athleticism” are words associated with UFC’s flyweight division.
“Knockout” or “submission” are a couple terms that have been lacking in the 125-pound class, at least when it comes to the first two title fights in the weight class.
“No one has power if you’re not (standing) there and punching,” said John Moraga, who takes on champ Demetrious Johnson atop the UFC on FOX 8 card at KeyArena on Saturday. “You can’t be moving your feet the whole time while throwing punches.”
Moraga again called Johnson’s fights “boring” when he met with reporters on Thursday.
“For the most part, he plays it safe,” Moraga said. “He uses his footwork. He’s cool with running around the whole fight. You’re going to be chasing him. You can’t play that game.”
Johnson claimed the UFC’s first flyweight belt with a split-decision victory over Joseph Benavidez last September and defended the title with a unanimous-decision victory over John Dodson in January.
UFC president Dana White said Johnson’s fights weren’t boring, but didn’t deny the fledgling division could benefit from a stoppage.
“Some guys go in there and they knock people out,” White said in a recent conference call with reporters. “Some guys pull off submissions and some guys go to decisions, but have exciting fights. The last fight with Demetrious was an awesome fight. So, I don’t know.”
Johnson said that the fans may be slow to embrace flyweights for other reasons.
“We haven’t been here for a long time,” Johnson said. “It will take some time to get established. I remember when they first had the 155-pound class. It took a while to build that up. Granted it had a bigger pool (of fighters) to play with. Our pool is maybe 14 or 15 guys.”
This is the second time the division has been featured on a FOX broadcast. (The first was when Johnson beat Dodson at UFC on FOX 7 in January.) That wasn’t the original plan as a Johnson tore the labrum in his shoulder, pushing back a fight originally scheduled for April back a few months.
Johnson was out of action for six weeks as he rehabbed.
“The injury has healed pretty well,” Johnson said. “I don’t feel pain anymore. Of all my injuries, this was the worst.”
Johnson added that he expects plenty of action.
“I think you’re going to see a great fight,” Johnson said. “You know I’m going to come out in good shape. I always do. I’ll set the pace. I think I’ll get the opportunity to finish him.”
Johnson has won with by knockout three times and earned six decision wins in his 20-fight pro career.
“I try to go out there and fight,” Johnson said. “Two things are going to happen. I’m either going to win or lose. It’s back and white. That’s what’s going to happen.”
Just maybe how Johnson wins or loses, however, could give the flyweights a boost.