This past weekend at UFC London, Ketlen Vieira (14-3) fought on the prelims against Pannie Kianzad (16-7). Vieira was able to pick up the unanimous decision win which moved her to 3-1 in her last four fights with the lone loss coming against top contender Raquel Pennington (15-8).
That loss came via split decision and the majority of the media members who scored that fight thought that Vieira had won. Only two media members gave the fight to Pennington, but two judges gave the fight to her and in the end, that’s all that matters.
When Amanda Nunes retired, there only seemed to be one guarantee in terms of the vacant UFC bantamweight title. That guarantee is that Julianna Pena (11-5) will be in the next title fight. The former champion was supposed to conclude her trilogy with Nunes in June, but broke her ribs and had to pull out.
Nunes in return fought and dominated Irene Aldana (14-7). Aldana is another fight that factors into the top half of the division. There’s a lot of fluidity with top contenders right now and there’s nothing set in stone, so what should the UFC do with the bantamweight division.
Mayra Bueno Silva (11-2-1) factors heavily into the title picture right now. Since moving up to 135 pounds from flyweight, Bueno Silva has gone 4-0 and just submitted former champion Holly Holm. After the win, she started calling for a fight against Julianna Pena. She also pointed to the lack of fan interest in a Pena fight with Raquel Pennington.
If all things were equal and fair, I think Pennington would likely get the shot against Pena for the vacant title. However, this is the UFC and we know that they’ll strike when the iron is hot at times. With that, I think Bueno Silva just might get the shot. From talking to a few folks, I think it’s a coin toss.
However, let’s say they do go with Pennington who has done everything the promotion has asked of her including being the backup for UFC 289 which doesn’t go unnoticed by the promotion. What happens with Bueno Silva next?
A little outside the box, but I like the idea of Bueno Silva facing off against Germaine De Randamie (10-4) next. De Randamie hasn’t fought since choking out Julianna Pena back in 2020. She just had a baby and is gearing up for a return around September or October.
De Randamie would be a big challenge for Bueno Silva and would initiate a legitimate title eliminator at 135. Hell, put it on the same card as Pena – Pennington. Then, take Vieira and let her have a rematch with Irene Aldana whenever Aldana is ready to come back.
In addition to these matchups, I think the table is set for a fun matchup between former champions. I love the idea of the UFC booking the rematch between Holly Holm (15-7) and Miesha Tate (19-8). Given where they both are in their careers, it just makes all the sense in the world.
So, to summarize, if I was matchmaking, here’s how I’d book the division moving forwards:
- Julianna Pena – Raquel Pennington (Vacant Title Fight)
- Mayra Bueno Silva – Germaine De Randamie (Title Eliminator)
- Irene Aldana – Ketlen Vieira 2
- Holly Holm – Miesha Tate 2