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Why No Love For The UFC's Little Men?

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UFC fans are in less than a frenzy about the spate of smaller division title fights we are enjoying. Why don't the little guys get the respect they deserve?

Last weekend saw UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz turn in an incredible performance in a five-round battle with Demetrious Johnson at UFC Live 6 (aka UFC on Versus 6). This coming weekend at UFC 136 we'll see lightweight champ Frankie Edgar defend his belt against Gray Maynard in a rematch of their bout-of-the-year-if-not-the-decade at UFC 125.

If that's not enough, featherweight champ Jose Aldo will face the biggest test of his career against Kenny Florian. Florian is the first of many UFC lightweights cutting down to 145 to test the waters now that the division is in the UFC.

And yet UFC fans don't seem to care that much. Not about Edgar vs. Maynard. Not about Aldo. Certainly not about Cruz. 

Why? Here are four reasons this particular set of champions isn't getting the attention they deserve at this particular time. 

  1. The New Divisions Are New
    The featherweight and bantamweight divisions are the newest additions to the UFC fold. After adding lightweights back in 2006, the UFC took its time expanding further. This was primarily because UFC-parent-company-Zuffa was using the WEC as a stalking horse to air fights on the Versus network. Once they could air UFC fights on Versus starting in 2010, this was less of an obstacle. The fact that the WEC was stalled out in a no growth pattern didn't help either.

    Regardless, the reality is that most UFC fans have only gotten to see Jose Aldo fight once since the merger and Dominick Cruz twice. It takes time to build passionate fan relationships.

    Complete Coverage of UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard III

  2. No compelling personalities
    Edgar, Aldo and Cruz all seem very much like nice guys. They don't talk a lot of trash. They don't show boat inside the cage. And except for Aldo, they don't specialize in brutal KO finishes. Aldo would seem to have the best shot of breaking through, but so far he's been too dogged by injuries to show the kind of form that made him the terror of the WEC.

    Edgar, despite beating B.J. Penn twice in a row, is still seen as a bit of a pretender at 155lbs. He's once again an underdog to Gray Maynard at UFC 136 after barely fending him off with a draw at UFC 125. It will take a lot of convincing wins over tough competition to get Frankie Edgar the fan regard he deserves. 

  3. Small fighters are a harder sell
    I give this factor slightly less credence than some just because we've seen what 147 pounders can do in boxing, the land of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Nevertheless, you won't be seeing any bantamweights compelling the sheer awe that heavyweight specimens like Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem create. There's something about seeing a giant among men lording it over the crowd with sheer mass and physical presence that can't be duplicated in the divisions where "Mighty Mouse" is a top contender. 

  4. Too many UFC's, too much competition from the other divisions
    This is the biggest factor. It's hard to get that pumped up about UFC on Versus 6 or UFC 136 when light heavyweight champ Jon Jones just fought and welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre will also be fighting in October.

    And those aren't even the big fights! With the UFC's debut on American broadcast television looming, it's just hard to concentrate. Let's face it, fans, promoters and media alike are having a hard time concentrating on anything that's not UFC on Fox Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title. November 12! Thundering punches! Best heavyweight bout in years! I can't wait.
Oh, sorry, back to the little guys.