It’s easy to think that the UFC’s trading of Demetrious Johnson only affects him, but Jose “Shorty” Torres, a top UFC flyweight prospect, believes it could have much larger ramifications for dozens of fighters’ careers and livelihoods.
What Demetrious Johnson’s Departure Means for Flyweight
“It’s a bad image for the flyweight division,” Torres told the Body Lock with regards to the trade.
UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa is this Saturday!
- Main event: Adesanya vs. Costa 🏆
- Co-main event: Reyes vs. Blachowicz 🏆
Torres approaches the situation “from a business standpoint,” viewing it from an outside perspective. He believes that with Johnson’s absence, the flyweight division might not be long for the UFC’s world.
“If UFC wanted to cut the flyweight division when they had the most dominant UFC champion ever in history in that weight class… what’s [the division] matter now that he’s gone?”
Despite his assertions that flyweight is “one of the best, if not the best and most talented division out there,” Torres recognizes that the division offers the UFC little in the form of storied promotional value.
“Now, you’ve, in a sense, taken out the best thing we had to offer. You got rid of [Johnson]. Again, a business standpoint: what do the flyweights have to offer? Honestly, I don’t believe [there’s] anything.”
“We think Cejudo’s bumping up to fight T.J. [Dillashaw]. Demetrious Johnson’s gone. Sergio [Pettis] has bumped up. The only flyweight fight that was the main event besides Demetrious Johnson was Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno in Mexico.”
Torres’ Emergency Backup Plan
While Torres feels that ambiguity and uncertainty on a divisional level, he also senses it on a personal one. “I was told I was going to fight sometime early next year, but with this whole claim, it’s ‘what’s going to happen next’? Am I going to be bumped up to bantamweight if the division’s closed? Will [the UFC] allow me to bump up to bantamweight?”
“Can I do what Frankie Edgar did at 155? Can I do what Manny Pacquiao did? That’s something I really want to do,” says Torres.
Despite being comfortable moving to bantamweight, Torres acknowledges the precariousness of his and his fellow flyweights’ plights should the UFC close their division.
“If there’s no weight class, what’s the point of keeping guys? I can see them cutting 75 percent of the division, keeping mainly just the good veterans and the good up-and-comers.”
Torres’ Ultimate Beliefs
In terms of “trades” themselves, Torres believes they’re a more powerful tool for promotions than the fighters involved. “I think it’s a good idea for the promotions,” he says, but raises important questions, such as “are the fighters being able to negotiate the trade as well? Are there any type of negotiations for them?”
According to Torres, the UFC’s decision to deal Demetrious Johnson could mean the end for the UFC’s flyweight division. He points to the division’s lack of demonstrable drawing power and the UFC’s past consideration for terminating the division as primary causes for concern.
However, he is quick to note that the end of flyweight wouldn’t mean the end of “Team Shorty,” quickly volunteering to move to bantamweight, should that option necessitate itself.
“I believe [the trade is] nothing but a bad sign for the flyweight division,” reiterates Torres.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.