The UFC has become the home of the “little guy,” as the flyweight division has been welcomed with open arms. The smallest division to ever be featured in the Octagon has already put on a few fast-paced bouts that were fantastic to watch. As we near the crowning of the first 125-pound champion in the UFC’s history, we should look at a few fighters who have built their resumes outside of the Zuffa umbrella, but would be welcome additions to the new roster.
Ulysses Gomez (9-2) – Unranked
Gomez is a big name among grappling aficionados, and his abilities on the mat have transitioned well into the world of mixed martial arts. He excelled while competing in multiple grappling tournaments across the country, most notably the main event of the first UFC Fan Expo grappling event. Since that time, he has continued to stop foes by way of tap out, as seven of his nine professional victories have come via submission. Gomez has competed as both a flyweight and a bantamweight, with success in both weight classes, winning both the 125- and 135-pound championships in Tachi Palace Fights. Gomez also appeared in Bellator’s last bantamweight tournament, though after winning his opening round contest, he was forced to withdraw due to issues surrounding a staph infection. Since personality outside the cage has become almost as valuable as productivity inside of it, Gomez is the exact type of fighter that Zuffa likes, a character that would be able to entertain the fans.
Jussier da Silva (14-1) – MMA Ratings Ranked #3
Brazilian standout da Silva has continued to impress outside of the UFC. The current Shooto South American 123-pound champion is riding a four-fight win streak after suffering the only loss of his career back in 2011 to Ian McCall. His most important victory to date is his win over Shinichi Kojima, who was enjoying a four-year reign as the Shooto champion before he lost to Da Silva, and then had to give up his title due to injury. Da Silva is another name on the long list of Nova Uniao fighters that continue to take the lighter weight classes of mixed martial arts by storm. Even though he is a Shooto champion, he is active in other promotions, competing in Brazil and Japan, as well in the United States. With one fight let on his contract with Tachi Palace Fights, da Silva could very shortly come over to the UFC, and inject another youthful fighter into the mix of fighters competing in the Octagon.
Darrell Montague (11-2) – MMA Ratings Ranked #9
Twenty-four year old Montague has jumped out to a quick start during his four-year career. As a member of the Tachi Palace Fights roster, he holds a notable win over Gomez, while his only loss in the promotion came at the hands of McCall in 2011. His other defeat came at the hands of Robert Peralta, who currently competes in the UFC. The California native has put together a number of winning streaks, the longest of which was six wins from 2009 to 2011. The fact that he is under 25 but has experience on some of the larger stages of mixed martial arts makes him a valuable prospect who would be a strong addition to the Zuffa roster.
Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6) – MMA Ratings Ranked #7
Known for wearing an Afro in tribute to Japanese boxer Yoko Gushiken, Yamaguchi has long been a staple within the lighter weights of mixed martial arts. He is a former Shooto bantamweight and featherweight champion, and also a King of the Cage junior flyweight champion. He is best known for his trilogy with Kojima, where even though he lost two of the three fights, he caught the attention of Japanese fans. The importance of being known as an “exciting” fighter within MMA cannot be overstated, and Yamaguchi’s propensity to throw damaging punches and score knockout victories — 10 of his 26 wins have come by TKO/KO stoppage — would quickly get fans behind his fighting style. At 35 years old he may be close to the end of his career, but he is still a force in the division, and could grab the attention of international viewers if he can put together a successful string of fights in the Octagon.
As Zuffa continues to build the flyweight division, it will be interesting to see what established names are added to the group of competitors that are already a part of the organization. These four fighters would be a good start, and would create some exciting matchups for Joseph Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson, and others.