Jussier Formiga: MMA’s Best To Never Fight For A Title?
By James Lee
The UFC’s second pay-per-view card under the Covid-19 pandemic this weekend will once again distance the organisation from the global sporting world as one of few proceeding to provide entertainment to the masses.
As widely-recognised great Amanda Nunes is set to defend her featherweight title for the first time, a flyweight fight between Jussier Formiga and Alex Perez on the preliminary card will showcase some of the highest levels of all-round skill in the sport, despite likely facing a lack of acknowledgement.
In nearly every other division in the UFC, a fight between two top ten contenders would feature on a pay-per-view main card or perhaps headline a fight night event. At flyweight, however, it is unconventional. Those at flyweight are instead the most underappreciated, but most talented in the sport, with Jussier Formiga a key example of that.
For a long period, the flyweight division has been chaotic and confusing with its status unknown and a figurehead currently unestablished. Most expected the flyweight division to dissolve earlier this year upon former champion Henry Cejudo relinquishing the belt.
It has forever struggled to acquire what should be its deserved recognition, but with the title seemingly open, an opportunity is open for those at the top. UFC President Dana White has made it clear he intends to rematch Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant title, therefore the coming period is crucial for those who wish to cement themselves as possible contenders for the following years.
Interestingly, Jussier Formiga potentially had the chance to earn a title shot in March against Brandon Moreno but fell short in a close decision. In fact, that has unfortunately been a staple to his career so far. The Brazilian could be deemed the sport’s most inconsistent, being that he has beaten some of the best at 125 lbs, but has also failed to maintain that consistency enough to earn a title shot.
As many mention names like Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Donald Cerrone as the best fighters to never have won a title, Formiga should be amongst them. The ATT fighter has never fought for a title, but it could be said he has lost five title eliminator fights being that five fighters have gone on to contest for the sport’s ultimate prize after overcoming him.
His first chance came against John Dodson in 2012 upon the division’s creation. More recent losses to Joseph Benavidez in 2013 and 2019, Henry Cejudo in 2015 and Ray Borg in 2017 has prevented him for his chance and his deserved recognition.
As he approaches Las Vegas on Saturday, it will be the first time in his career he has lost twice in a row. A further loss to #9 contender Alex Perez would seemingly banish him from the rankings. However, a win would do wonders. One advantage to Formiga’s career is that he has a win over current number one contender Deiveson Figueiredo. If his Brazilian counterpart becomes champion later this year, a rematch for the title is possible, meaning his relevance will be maintained for as long as he continues to win.
Ultimately, success over names like Deiveson Figueiredo, Sergio Pettis, Chris Cariaso, Alexandre Pantoja, Wilson Reis, Scott Jorgensen, Dustin Ortiz and Ben Nguyen does not come standard.
Very few have managed to accumulate multiple and frequent wins over top contenders like Formiga has. The continuance of that record will transpire on Saturday, in what could be his most important career fight in establishing the legacy he deserves.