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Monday, June 16, 2014
Flyweights still haven't taken off

By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com

UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson might not be underappreciated as much as he's just an acquired taste.

At this point, it seems that everyone can agree on Johnson's talent. It's indisputable. However, as demonstrated by the stream of fans who emptied from Rogers Arena early Saturday, not everyone agrees on how fun it is to watch him work.

In all the UFC events I have attended, I have never seen an arena file out like that as a main event was in progress. Maybe it's happened and I just missed it, but seeing it happen Saturday makes me think not. It was a hard thing not to notice.

Johnson, for his part, said he didn't notice it and shrugged when asked about it.

"I was too busy throwing knees in the clinch," Johnson said. "It doesn't bother me at all. People are free to leave and go as they please. I had a great fight and I think the educated fans loved it. That's all I have to say about that."

He's right. There's really not much else to say. UFC president Dana White basically says if you don't like it, don't watch it (and by the way, you're an idiot).

It seems that we've been having this same conversation for two years now, ever since the UFC introduced the flyweight division in 2012. When Johnson won the inaugural title at UFC 152 in September, the Toronto fan base booed the fight -- a five-rounder against Joseph Benavidez, which I personally found to be one of the best of the year.

White says to give it time. The same thing happened when the UFC first introduced the lightweight division, he says. Eventually, the flyweight division will find its groove.

Here's hoping White is right and isn't just feeding the optimism of a fight promoter. Even if we've reached a point where it's not shocking to see fans ignore Johnson, one of the best fighters in the world, that doesn't make it any less deflating.