The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s journey toward equal rights for fighters of all shapes and sizes came to its end on March 2, when the flyweight division made its official debut at UFC on FX 2 in Sydney. Now, fighters from 125 to 265 pounds all have a chance to compete at the sport’s highest level at their most ideal weight.
It has not always been this way. In its formative years, “Ultimate Fighting” made very few concessions for the little guy. Outside the realm of the UFC, it was similar, sometimes even more pronounced. Even as MMA evolved and more divisions were added, some fighters stayed true to their roots, chopping down the redwoods of the sport as a matter of pride. For others it was a matter of necessity -- or at least a better paycheck.
Former Fresno State University football coach Pat Hill lived by the motto of “anyone, anytime, anywhere” during his days leading the Bulldogs. In honor of that philosophy, Sherdog.com unveils its list of Top 10 “Giant Killers” -- an eclectic list of fighters whose heart has consistently exceeded their size.
Johnson looks to have finally found a permanent home with the inception of the UFC’s flyweight tournament. His 125-pound debut was not without controversy, as Johnson was initially awarded a decision against Ian McCall at UFC on FX 2. However, the discovery of a tabulation error overturned that ruling, and fans were deprived of a sudden-death round between the two dynamic competitors.
Beginning with Johnson’s World Extreme Cagefighting debut, fans and pundits alike claimed that few fighters would benefit more from the creation of a flyweight division than “Mighty Mouse.” His first WEC appearance indicated as much, as Brad Pickett took down the AMC Pankration product at will in taking a unanimous decision. However, Johnson would not lose again until he secured a bantamweight title shot. Bolstered by blinding speed and boundless energy, the 5-foot-3 Johnson took out Nick Pace, Damacio Page, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and Miguel Torres in consecutive bouts.
Johnson truly gained attention by beating Page, submitting the then-world-ranked competitor with a guillotine in the third round. Despite his visible size disadvantage, he was the aggressor throughout the surprising affair.
“He was basically drowning, and I was the shark that came up and got him from underneath,” Johnson said after the bout.
Johnson’s run came to an end at the hands of Dominick Cruz at UFC Live 6. Johnson was game, holding a slight edge on “The Dominator” in significant strikes. In fact, Johnson has landed more significant strikes than all seven of his foes in the WEC and the UFC. His rise from undersized unknown to Top 10 bantamweight proves at least one thing: speed kills.
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