On December 3rd, the UFC promoted The Ultimate Fighter 24 finale from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The main event featured the winner of TUF 24 Tim Elliott facing Demetrius Johnson for the flyweight title. Elliot was once considered a future star in the sport, but was released and had to win a tournament involving 15 other fighters to earn this title shot. What did this event mean for the UFC?
Demetrius Johnson Is Another Marketable Star in the Sport
Demetrius Johnson hasn’t lost a fight since 2011, and he has never lost by knockout or submission. On December 3rd, Johnson was able to defeat Elliot by unanimous decision, which meant that he successfully defended his title for the ninth straight time. Even if Johnson were to go down in the near future, it will only serve to legitimize the person who beat him and the flyweight division as a whole.
The Ultimate Fighter Concept Still Works
No one seriously thought that Tim Elliot was going to win the flyweight title. Dana White even said before the match took place that a Tim Elliott victory would be on par for as big of an upset as Holly Holm beating Ronda Rousey or Matt Serra beating GSP. However, allowing veteran fighters the ability to win another opportunity to compete in the UFC is an effective way of retaining talent that may have improved with age. It also freshens up the show while giving fans an underdog to root for both during the season and after it airs.
Johnson Wins By Unanimous Decision
The judges unanimously decided Johnson beat Elliot in three rounds, but that didn’t mean Elliott wasn’t a rag doll out there. Elliot highlighted the first round as he got Johnson into a guillotine choke, but Johnson escaped. After the first, Johnson took control of the match, never coming that close to defeat. Elliot kept throwing punches and kept the fight watchable, but was no match for the defending champion. Johnson praised Elliott after the fight saying, “Tim Elliott is a hell of a fighter. It’s like wrestling a damn muskrat, man. I just had to neutralize him.”
The Flyweight Division Got Some Much Needed Exposure
One could argue that Jon Jones is the best fighter in MMA right now. One could also argue that Brock Lesnar is the biggest name in the sport even if he is just a part-time performer. Connor McGregor is the closest thing to a lightweight in the UFC who is both feared and respected by competitors and fans alike.
Recently, McGregor was able to capture both the featherweight and lightweight championships before being stripped of the featherweight belt. Currently fighting at 125 pounds, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Demetrious Johnson move up a weight class or two if there was a compelling fight to be made.
To some, the Johnson-Elliot main event may have been nothing more than a gimmick match. However, it actually does many things for the UFC moving forward. In addition to legitimizing the flyweight division, the company has shown that it can create compelling storylines that can be used to market future fights or create new stars whenever it needs to.