MMA Ratings Podcast

June 29, 2019

UFC Minneapolis: Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga Out To Prove Flyweight Isn't Dead in ESPN Co-Headliner

By Adam Martin

We have a rarity tonight at UFC on ESPN 3, as not only is a flyweight bout set to go down, it's actually the co-main event of the card. Top contenders at 125 lbs Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga meet in the co-headliner of UFC Minneapolis, with the winner of the bout likely being next in line for a crack at the title currently held by UFC Flyweight Champion Henry Cejudo.

With only 10 flyweights currently on the roster, UFC flyweight bouts have become increasingly rarer and rarer as the months go on. UFC President Dana White has not completely dissolved the division, but the promotion has been cutting the division's fighters at will with only a few remaining. Along with the women's featherweight division, the flyweight division is the UFC's forgotten weight class.

That changes this Saturday night. Despite the weight class barely holding on for life, the UFC has decided the co-main event of UFC on ESPN 3 is the right place for Benavidez and Formiga to rematch. These two previously met back in 2013, with Benavidez winning by TKO. Since then, both men have remained as top contenders at flyweight but have never won the belt. But in 2019, especially with Demetrious Johnson no longer a part of the UFC, both men are closing in on that elusive title shot.

Both Benavidez and Formiga are 34 now, but both men are arguably competing at their peak form right now. Benavidez has won his last two fights and eight of his last nine, including a split decision win over Cejudo that looks really good in hindsight. Formiga, meanwhile, has won his last four fights and has never looked better. It's a shame the flyweight division is in flux right now, but there's no doubt that aside from Cejudo these are the two best 125-pounders still on the UFC roster.

There's a lot of pressure on Benavidez and Formiga. First off, they have to win the fight. And second, the fight has to be good. If this is a boring fight, it might not convince the UFC that the flyweight division is worth keeping around. But if it's an exciting fight and/or one that features an exciting finish, the UFC might be more inclined to keep the division around a bit longer. Ultimately, there's no guarantee the winner will fight Cejudo for the flyweight title, but these fighters can try to force the UFC's hand with an impressive showing.

The UFC flyweight division may not be around much longer, but the promotion is at least giving Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga the respect of being the co-main event at UFC on ESPN 3. They deserve it, and now it's up to both fighters to show the UFC that the division needs to stick around, at least for a little bit. This is one of the most important flyweights fights ever, as the winner can convince the UFC he's not only next for Cejudo, but also that the promotion should keep the division around. Let's see what the fighters can do with the opportunity.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Jussier Formiga

UFC on ESPN 3: Ngannou vs. Dos Santos (formerly UFC on ESPN 3: Woodley vs. Lawler 2) takes place June 29, 2019 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN 3 Pre-Fight Analysis

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