Fast & furious, flyweights pack heavy punch for UFC
There will be nothing wrong with your televisions if they're set to Fox on Saturday night. Should you watch the UFC on Fox 6 main event via DVR, know that it is playing back the fight in normal speed.
The flyweights you'll see are that fast.
Fast enough that you will miss six or seven punches if you check your Twitter feed for a half-second. Fast enough to increase your metabolism as you sit on the couch and watch them run around. Fast enough to make you sweat.
Demetrious Johnson, the UFC's flyweight champion, motors around the cage at a rate uncomparable to any other mixed martial artist -- except perhaps the challenger in this bout, John Dodson.
"We're those little guys that had to get beat up by all the bigger guys, the ones who are trying to hold us down and put us in our place with their strength," Dodson said. "We had to come up with ways to counteract that. So now you have a bunch of guys who have developed a technique or style of fighting that helps them maneuver their bodies a lot better than anything you see at 155 and above."
Johnson is 5-foot-3 and weighs 125 pounds. Dodson is 5-3 and weighs 125 pounds. At a combined 250 pounds, they weigh one pound less than UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. David would be Goliath against the flyweight fighters.
UFC added the flyweight division in December 2011, with a four-fighter tournament that began in March 2012. Johnson emerged as the champion, beating Joseph Benavidez by split decision in a non-stop, back-and-forth fight. It was 25 minutes of action, complete with submission attempts, knockdowns, bloodshed -- and boos from fans.
The crowd reaction made little sense. UFC president Dana White even suggested at the post-fight news conference that those who booed that fight in person and on Twitter not buy another UFC ticket or pay-per-view. "I don't want your money," he said that night.
Perhaps some folks don't quite know what to do with these flyweights yet. They may lack the physical stature of the fighters in the upper weight classes, but they bring excitement each time they step into the octagon. The Energizer bunny would need three energy drinks just to keep up with Johnson, Dodson and the rest of the flyweights for one round.
"The 125s are moving so fast, working hard and they're so technical," Dodson said. "We're all just that good and we're so explosive, and nobody really knows about us."
Four inches shorter than former NBA slam dunk champion Spud Webb, Dodson can still dunk a basketball. A hoop is 10 feet high. Do the arithmetic. The 5-3 Dodson must jump his own height in order to get the ball high enough over the rim to dunk it. Even the 6-11 Dwight Howard couldn't do that when the NBA star won the slam dunk competition and reached the 12-foot, 6-inch mark on the backboard with his outstretched hand.
The flyweight division brings a level of athleticism that goes beyond the norm of an MMA fight. That's one of the reasons why their fight is getting the main event spotlight on national television.
"It's a world title fight," Johnson said. "You should put two world class athletes in there and that's all that really matters no matter what weight class we are."
Johnson (16-2-1, 4-1-1 UFC) improved his career path when he dropped from bantamweight (135 pounds) with the advent of the flyweight division. Same goes for Dodson (15-5, 3-0), who won Season 14 of "The Ultimate Fighter" as a bantamweight. On Saturday, these two fighters will showcase their fighting skills, speed and athleticism (and yes, some power), and perhaps more fans will realize this: these little guys can fight.
"Everybody in the heavyweights can hit hard because they're so damn big," Johnson said. "You haven't seen a heavyweight being extremely fast and have good cardio. In the flyweight division, you're going to get that."