UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will go at it with number one contender Ali Bagautinov this Saturday, with all the marbles at stake in the UFC 174 main event. ‘Mighty Mouse’ has bossed the division since winning the inaugural title against Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152. His three title defences in the time since have come on Fox cards, making UFC 174 H=Johnson’s first PPV headliner.
Although some fans are still not fully in to the lower weight class action, the division has certainly delivered in the two years since it’s birth. Very impressive finishes over John Moraga and Joseph Benavidez in his last two outings have not only helped DJ cement his status as a PPV draw and legit champion, but have brought much needed focus to the 125-pound category.
‘Mighty Mouse’ seems as confident as ever ahead of his bout with ‘King Puncher’, as he speaks to ESPN about what is in store for the division:
“When it comes to superfights, it’s almost like it’s kind of broken up now, TJ Dillashaw is the new bantamweight champion, and for me, I still have a lot of work to do at 125 pounds. Once I beat everybody in the division, literally, to the point there is nobody else, I’d go from there. There are people in this division I haven’t fought yet. I think in order for me to leave the division, I need to make sure I fight every one of them.”
So for the moment, it seems that Johnson is motivated to clean out the flyweight division, but he faces a very stern challenge in Ali Bagautinov; the heavy-handed Russian Sambo champion brings with him a 10-fight unbeaten streak, including UFC wins over Marcos Vinicius, Tim Elliott and John Lineker. ‘Puncher King’ has found a new home at Jackson’s MMA since coming to the U.S. in 2013, so you know he has been working hard in camp too.
Neither man has ever been finished, they hold 20 finishes between them, and are renowned for their speed and technicality. UFC 174 might just be flying under the radar a bit here, and perhaps Johnson and Bagautinov are the men to fix the spotlight to the division permanently. Do you care about seeing Johnson and Bagautinov square off, or is the flyweight division not your bag?