Aljamain Sterling wins by DQ to become champion at UFC 259

The first of three title fights tonight at UFC 259 was the bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). These two were originally supposed  to fight back in December, but the fight got delayed.

Tonight was the first title defense for Petr Yan. Yan won the bantamweight title back at UFC 251 when he stopped Jose Aldo. Since making his debut with the UFC back in 2018, Yan has been perfect going 7-0.

While it’s been relatively smooth sailing for Yan so far, tonight was going to be his toughest test. There is no questioning that the top contender in the UFC‘s bantamweight division is Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling has strung together five consecutive wins to earn this title shot tonight. None of the wins were as impressive as his victory over fellow top contender Cory Sandhagen. Those two met back at UFC 250.

The fight was supposed to be incredibly even, however, it didn’t appear that way. Sterling was able to get Sandhagen to the ground quickly and submit him within 90 seconds. He was going to be the biggest test Petr Yan has seen in the UFC so far.

UFC 259 Recap

Round 1

The UFC bantamweight title fight opened with immediate pressure from Sterling. Sterling opens with a couple of nice kicks to the body. A nice jab lands for Sterling and Yan looked very composed early on.

Yan had his guard high just trying to time Sterling. Another nice body kick lands for Sterling. Yan’s body was really red from the kicks of Sterling. Sterling was pushing forward with a ton of pressure here in the first.

A nice combination lands for Sterling. Yan catches a kick and throws Sterling to the ground, but lets him up. Sterling goes right back to the pressure. A flying knee lands for Aljamain Sterling, but it didn’t seem to hurt Yan.

First big takedown attempt for Sterling and he gets Yan down. However, Yan gets right back up. Yan separates and lands a massive combination that floors Sterling. Sterling is wobbling around, but goes right back to the pressure.

The UFC champion floors Sterling with a leg kick. Sterling gets back up, but his facial expression has changed. Yan is smiling at Sterling in the final minute. Sterling tries to grapple and Yan slams him down. Good start for Sterling, but the UFC champ takes the first round.

Round 2

The UFC champ wanted to get right back to the action in the second round. Sterling opens the striking with a body kick. A nice jab lands from Sterling and he tries to takedown the champ. Yan defended well and threw Sterling to the ground.

Yan was smiling at Sterling and lets him up. Sterling goes right back to the pressure. A couple of nice body shots lands for Sterling and he shoots in for another takedown. However, he couldn’t get Petr Yan down here in the second.

While Yan defended well, Sterling wouldn’t give up on the takedown attempt. Sterling tries a trip and still can’t get Yan down. Yan separates, but Sterling gave him no room to breathe. Sterling went right back to the takedown attempt against the fence.

One minute left in the round and these two were just along the fence. A nice knee lands for Petr Yan and Sterling tries hard for the takedown, but Yan separates. Again, Sterling goes right back to the pressure. With ten seconds left, the UFC champion lands his own takedown. With the pressure, I lean Sterling in round two.

Round 3

The third round opens with again, more pressure from Sterling. However, he did seem slower in the third round. A couple of nice jabs land for Aljamain Sterling. Yan pushes forward and lands a nasty hook to the body.

The UFC champ started opening up here in the third. Yan was pressuring Sterling more in the third and lands some big shots. The pace was significantly slower for Sterling her in the third round. A sloppy takedown attempt from Sterling is easily defended by Yan.

Yan was walking Sterling down here in the third. A nice 1-2 lands for Yan and he uses a clinch to just throw the challenger to the ground. Yan lets him back up and the UFC champ went right back to work. However, Sterling was able to use a takedown attempt to hold Yan against the fence.

Sterling looked exhausted here in the third round. The two come together again and Yan just throws Sterling to the ground. Sterling gets back up and tries for more takedowns, but they were very sloppy. Clear third round for the UFC bantamweight champion.

Round 4

Petr Yan looked much fresher in between rounds here at UFC 259. Sterling opens the fourth round with a body kick. Yan grabs the leg of Sterling and he throws the challenger back to the ground.

However, he didn’t follow him to the ground. Instead, the UFC champ went to work with kicks to the legs. A big knee to the body lands for Yan as Sterling gets up. A big combination lands for Yan, but that forces Sterling to push forward.

A couple of nice hooks to the body land for Aljamain Sterling. A stiff straight left hand from Yan backs off Sterling. A huge body kick lands for the UFC champion and he’s turning it up. However, Sterling shoots for another takedown to stop the pressure.

Yan immediately turns Sterling around and separates. Halfway through the round and Sterling looks like he’s moving in slow motion. Another body kick lands for Yan. The champ lands a big left hand. Both men were looking fatigued here in the fourth at UFC 259.

A huge left straight hurts Sterling. Sterling was starting to walk away from Petr Yan. Sterling then started shooting for takedowns out of desperation. A huge combination lands for Yan and Sterling keeps plotting forward.

A big illegal knee lands for Petr Yan and Sterling is hurt on the mat. This one looks like it’s going to be over. Aljamain Sterling is going to be the new UFC champion by disqualification.

Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan by Disqualification (Illegal Knee)

UFC 259 Preview: Petr Yan – Aljamain Sterling

The first of three title fights at UFC 259 is the bantamweight title match between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). Originally, these two were supposed to fight in December, however, they will finally stand across from each other tomorrow night.

Since making his debut with the UFC back in 2018, nobody has been able to stop Petr Yan. Yan has gone 7-0 with four stoppages over the last couple of years. In late 2019, Yan demolished Hall of Famer Urijah Faber which really announced his arrival to the world.

From there, Yan earned a vacant title opportunity against former champion, Jose Aldo. The two met at UFC 251 on Fight Island. Yan got off to a slow start, but as the fight went on, he started taking control. Yan ended up with a fifth round TKO to capture the bantamweight title.

Just one month prior to Yan becoming champion, Aljamain Sterling fought Cory Sandhagen. This matchup was considered a title eliminator and nobody knew how it would go. Well, Sterling got Sandhagen down and submitted him in just under 90 seconds.

With that emphatic win, Sterling had earned himself a UFC title shot. Sterling is unbeaten since 2018 having gone 5-0 inside the octagon. He’s defeated Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and Sandhagen on his road to UFC 259.

UFC 259 Prediction

When it comes to the title fight at UFC 259, the path to victory for both men is quite clear. For Aljamain Sterling, he has to get this fight to the ground. Yes, we’ve seen him show off some good striking, just take a look at the Pedro Munhoz fight.

However, we all know that Sterling is going to need to get this fight to the ground to win tomorrow night. For Petr Yan, retaining his UFC title is all about defending the takedown. Yan’s boxing is sensational and he needs to make this a striking matchup to win.

Aljamain Sterling has never gone five rounds while Yan has done it several times. I’m also going to be curious to see the gas tanks of both men. The first round of this fight is going to tell me a lot.

If Sterling is able to get Yan down early and often with little trouble, we are going to have a new UFC bantamweight champion. However, if Yan is able to keep this mostly on the feet, he’s going to score a knockout tomorrow. In the end, I’m leaning towards Petr Yan getting the finish and retaining his title tomorrow night.

Prediction: Petr Yan by TKO – Round 4

After highlight knockout at UFC Vegas 18, what’s next for Cory Sandhagen?

One of the most highly anticipated matchups at UFC Vegas 18 was the bantamweight matchup between Cory Sandhagen (14-2) and Frankie Edgar (24-9-1). This fight was looked at as a title eliminator in the UFC‘s bantamweight division.

Going into the fight, I was really leaning towards Frankie Edgar. Yes, Edgar is the much older fighter and Sandhagen has so much promise. However, there’s just something about Edgar that makes it hard to bet against sometimes.

I figured that Edgar’s pressure and activity levels would be enough to score a decision. However, I was completely wrong about the outcome. Like I expected, Edgar came out at UFC Vegas 18 with a lot of pressure.

In the opening seconds, Sandhagen was already on his bicycle on the outside. Sandhagen did a good job of landing some good calf kicks that prevented an Edgar entry early on. Then, as soon as Edgar made his move inside, Sandhagen launched with a gorgeous flying knee.

The knee landed flush on Edgar’s chin and the former UFC lightweight champion went crashing to the canvas. That knee was so beautifully timed and it made a statement from Cory Sandhagen to the UFC‘s bantamweight division.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

There is only one possible thing next for Cory Sandhagen after UFC Vegas 18. That one thing is a title shot. There is nothing left for Sandhagen to do after that performance on Saturday night.

Next month at UFC 259, Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling will battle it out for the bantamweight championship. Whoever wins that night will be the next man to take on Cory Sandhagen inside the octagon.

There is already history between Sandhagen and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). Sterling dismantled Sandhagen last June and choked him unconscious in under 90 seconds to earn his UFC title shot. A rematch between the two would be fun.

Of course, then you have the champion, Petr Yan (15-1). Yan has all the makings of a guy who can be champion for a long time. However, to do that, he’s going to have to defeat Sterling and Sandhagen next. An extremely tall order for the UFC champion.

Cory Sandhagen says TJ Dillashaw needs a win before getting UFC title shot

One of the more exciting divisions in the UFC is the bantamweight division. Just last week, we saw it get announced that Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3) are finally going to fight for the title in March at UFC 259. 

Next month, there is also a big time bantamweight matchup scheduled for February 6th. Cory Sandhagen (13-2) will be taking on Frankie Edgar (24-8-1) in the co-main event of that UFC Fight Night.

Both Sandhagen and Edgar are currently ranked inside the top four of the bantamweight division. Considering that Cody Garbrandt (12-3) is ranked third despite moving down to flyweight, both men are actually ranked in the top three.

However, it’s not a guarantee that the winner of their matchup will get a UFC title shot. While it makes all the sense in the world and whoever wins would definitely be deserving, there’s one fighter that could throw a wrench into things.

That fighter is the former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw is getting ready to return after serving a two-year suspension following a positive drug test for EPO.

Dillashaw’s suspension forced him to relinquish the UFC bantamweight championship. He never lost the title inside the octagon, but his actions outside the cage gave the belt away. Dillashaw has been vocal about his desire to fight for the title.

UFC shot right away? Sandhagen says no way

TJ Dillashaw told ESPN in early December that he believes he should get a title shot immediately. His logic is that he never lost the title inside the cage and Yan really didn’t earn the title. For that reason, the championship is up for grabs.

Jose Aldo (29-7) recently called out Dillashaw for a fight after his last win. Honestly that matchup would make a ton of sense for both men. However, reports are that there is no traction at the moment to get that fight done.

Sandhagen has been hearing whispers about Dillashaw’s desire for a UFC title shot. He made it clear that he’s not in favor saying, “I heard him say he’s playing the ‘financially secure’ card. We’ve been putting in work while you’ve been gone. So that would kind of be a bummer if they just gave it to him.”

At this point, it doesn’t appear that the UFC is going to give Dillashaw his desired title shot. Yes, Dillashaw never lost the title inside the cage, however, he hasn’t fought in two years due to a suspension for taking a banned substance.

Dominick Cruz (22-3) never lost his title either but was forced to face Takeya Mizugaki instead of getting a title shot after his first layoff. And that was due to injury. Sandhagen is right in that the winner of him and Frankie Edgar should get the next shot at the title.

The UFC should really try to book Dillashaw against a guy like Aldo. Let him reestablish himself in the division and try to repair his name. Do not give him a title shot just because he held the belt when he was suspended. It’s not fair to the guys who have been competing.

UFC rebooks Petr Yan – Aljamain Sterling

The UFC has finalized the much anticipated bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). MMA Junkie was the first outlet to report that the sides had finalized the new fight date.

The UFC bantamweight title fight will officially take place on March 6th at UFC 259. The PPV card is turning out to be quite the spectacle as the promotion has already booked Adesanya – Blachowicz and Nunes – Anderson for UFC 259.

Now, we get to add Yan and Sterling to the mix. Yan has looked untouchable since he made his octagon debut back in 2018. He’s gone on a seven fight run that has led him to the undisputed bantamweight title.

After Henry Cejudo (16-2) vacated the bantamweight title after UFC 249, the UFC decided to pair Yan up against the former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (29-7). Yan was tested early on, but in the end, he dominated and finished Aldo in the fifth round.

It turned out to be a devastating performance as Yan captured the bantamweight championship. Yan looks like he’s going to be incredibly tough to beat, however, his opponent on March 6th seems very much up to the task.

Sterling’s UFC title shot

There is nobody in the UFC that is more deserving of a title shot than Aljamain Sterling. Sterling was arguably the top bantamweight contender alongside Yan prior to the Aldo fight.

However, prior to Cejudo fighting Dominick Cruz (22-3) at UFC 249, Cejudo was supposed to fight Aldo. Aldo couldn’t travel due to the pandemic so Cruz stepped in. Despite Sterling being ranked higher, Aldo got the title shot against Yan because he had been promised one previously.

Sterling had to wait and fight Cory Sandhagen (13-2). Sandhagen looked like he was going to be incredibly tough to beat, however, Sterling went right through him and choked him unconscious in less than 90 seconds.

For his win, Sterling was given a title shot against Yan in December. However, Yan had to pull out of the fight and the UFC has been working on a replacement date. They have found one on an incredibly stacked card on March 6th.

UFC: If Henry Cejudo returns in 2021, who will he fight?

At UFC 249 in May of last year, Henry Cejudo (16-2) successfully defended his bantamweight title when he stopped Dominick Cruz (22-3). The fight capped off an incredible three-year run for Cejudo.

Cejudo lost a split decision to Joseph Benavidez (28-7) in December of 2016. However, after that loss, Cejudo would not lose again in the UFC. He climbed to the top of the flyweight division where he was the first flyweight to defeat Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1).

From there, he defeated TJ Dillashaw (16-4) before moving up to bantamweight. At bantamweight he stopped Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) to capture the title before of course stopping Cruz at UFC 249.

After the fight was over, Cejudo said that he was walking away on top. At just 33 years old, Cejudo seemed comfortable with his decision to retire. However, he’s been constantly active on social media over the last few months.

Cejudo doesn’t talk like someone who’s fought his last fight in the UFC. He’s hinted at returning to the octagon at some point and perhaps 2021 is the year. So if Cejudo does return, who should he fight?

Who would the UFC pair him with?

The fight that Cejudo really wants is a fight with the UFC’s featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Fighting Volkanovski would give Cejudo the chance to do something truly remarkable.

Cejudo is already an Olympic Gold Medalist and a two-division UFC champion. However, if he were to fight and defeat Volkanovski, he would become the first fighter in the promotion’s history to have held a title in three divisions.

However, given the landscape of featherweight, I think this is unlikely. Volkanovski has a big challenge in front of him in Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). After Ortega, there is a plethora of top contenders waiting.

I can’t imagine the UFC giving Cejudo that fight because I don’t think he would commit to defending that title. I believe if he moved up for that fight it would be a one and done type of situation.

Now, if Volkanovski clears out the division over the next year or two, then I could see the UFC doing it. However, that division is too fluid right now to have a one and done type of title fight.

The same situation could be said about bantamweight. Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3) are getting ready to fight for that title. Bantamweight is one of the more stacked divisions in the UFC. I can’t see them letting Cejudo hold up the division.

Return to flyweight or a catchweight?

Of course that leaves flyweight and Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). To me, this is the most likely fight as things currently stand. Figueiredo is set to have a rematch with Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) followed by a fight with Cody Garbrandt (12-3) should he beat Moreno.

If Figueiredo wins both of those fights, I could see the UFC pairing him up against Cejudo in a one-off fight. It would be a massive fight for Figueiredo who the UFC is putting a lot of stock into. They’ve already had some fun back and forth which could fuel the potential fight.

As you can see, there are a number of options across three divisions. If Cejudo commits to coming back and competing more than once, any of the divisions are a possibility. However, if it’s just a one-time deal it will likely be against the flyweight champion of the world.

Who will be the UFC champions after 2021? (Flyweight – Lightweight)

Conor McGregor, UFC

2021 is already looking like an incredibly exciting year for the UFC. After a big year despite the pandemic in 2020, the promotion is riding a wave of momentum that should carry them to a huge year in 2021.

2020 was remarkable in the sense that no UFC champion lost their title inside the octagon. Sure, there were titles that were vacated, however, if a champion made the walk to the cage as a champion, they left as a champion.

We might never see another year like that in the UFC. With how good the competition levels are, every year you’re virtually guaranteed to see at least one champion lose their title. We should expect this in 2021.

Earlier this week, we posted an article on which UFC champions would likely lose their titles in 2021. However, I wanted to dive a little more in-depth and make predictions on who exactly I believe will leave 2021 a champion.

In this article we will go through the lower men’s divisions starting with flyweight. We will continue to go through the rest of the divisions and the women’s divisions throughout the week. So, who will walk out of 2021 a UFC champion?

UFC Champions after 2021

Flyweight – Deiveson Figueiredo

The first division we will look at features the 2020 UFC fighter of the year, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). Figueiredo captured the flyweight title this year after it was vacated by Henry Cejudo in late 2019.

He captured the title after dominating Joseph Benavidez twice. From there he defended his title against Alex Perez before running into Brandon Moreno (18-5-2). Moreno and Figueiredo fought to a draw at UFC 256.

Their fight was a fight of the year candidate. A back and forth war that ultimately saw the hands of both men raised. The UFC is planning on them rematching at some point in either April or May.

I believe that Figueiredo will win that rematch. From there, I’m expecting Figueiredo to face former bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3). I also believe that Figueiredo will turn away Garbrandt on his request to capture another UFC title.

That might be the only two times we see Figueiredo in 2021. I believe that the Moreno fight is going to be another war which might cause him to take some time off. Expect the Garbrandt fight in the second half of the year. Two tough fights might be it for Figueiredo.

Bantamweight – Aljamain Sterling

I believe that we are going to see a new UFC bantamweight champion in 2021 and his name is Aljamain Sterling (19-3). Sterling is currently waiting on his title shot against bantamweight champion, Petr Yan (15-1).

I’ll start by saying that I believe Petr Yan is incredible. If I was told that he will go through 2021 and remain the champion, I wouldn’t be shocked at all. However, I just have this feeling about Sterling.

Sterling has really showed me a lot over his last five performance. His striking is looking so much better and he’s incredibly slick on the ground. His domination of Cory Sandhagen was jaw dropping.

These two bantamweights are so good and I’m anxious for the UFC to book the title fight between the two. The bantamweight division is insanely stacked, but in my heart, I believe that Sterling is the best of the bunch right now.

Featherweight – Brian Ortega

Back in October, I believe we saw the best featherweight in the UFC compete. His name is Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). Ortega fought for the first time in almost two years against The Korean Zombie.

I picked Ortega to lose because the Brian Ortega who fought Max Holloway in 2018 wouldn’t have outstruck Chan Sung Jung. However, the Brian Ortega we saw in October on Fight Island looked like a completely different fighter.

T-City showed incredible striking that night beating up TKZ. We already know the skills he possesses on the mat so there were just questions on if his striking could get to that same level. I believe that they have.

Ortega will be taking on Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) in the first part of this year for the featherweight title. I believe this is a perfect fight for Ortega when it comes to the style. His rangy striking along with his grappling skills should create problems for Volkanovski.

I’m expecting Brian Ortega to get his hand raised when the two men fight. Expect Brian Ortega to hold onto that UFC title once he gets his hands on it. T-City is a problem and he’s just getting better.

Lightweight – Conor McGregor

I can already feel a portion of the UFC fan base rolling their eyes reading that. Yes, I believe that Conor McGregor (22-4) is going to leave 2021 as the UFC lightweight champion. There is plenty of reasoning behind this.

First and foremost, I believe that McGregor is going to defeat Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) at UFC 257. McGregor’s next fight after that will be for the lightweight championship. Likely coming against Justin Gaethje or Charles Oliveira. 

Let’s say that McGregor fight’s Justin Gaethje (22-3). I really like McGregor’s chances in that matchup. While we’ve seen such good performances from Gaethje, I think McGregor’s clean straight striking would give him a lot of problems.

I only see McGregor fighting twice at lightweight in 2021 which is why I believe he will be the champion. However, should Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) not retire, I believe Nurmagomedov will leave 2021 the champion.

The toughest test for McGregor in 2021 will be Charles Oliveira (30-9, 1 NC). Based on what we’ve seen from Oliveira lately, that is a very tough matchup for McGregor.

However, I still believe in the end, McGregor is the second best lightweight in the world only behind Nurmagomedov. If there’s no Khabib, then lightweight will see the second title reign of The Notorious Conor McGregor in 2021.

State of the UFC’s bantamweight division entering 2021

One of the divisions that has really flipped in 2020 is the UFC‘s bantamweight division. I’m not sure anyone saw the division going the way that it did when the year started. Granted, I don’t think anything about 2020 went as planned.

When the year started, Henry Cejudo (16-2) was the reigning UFC bantamweight king. He was angling for a fight with former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (29-7), after Aldo lost by split decision to Marlon Moraes.

Cejudo and the UFC brass felt that Aldo won the fight. The two men were scheduled to fight in May. However, after the pandemic hit, Aldo was not able to travel for UFC 249 to take on Cejudo.

That’s when former UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz (22-3), stepped to the plate. Cruz had been out since 2016, but in that fight he lost his world title. The two men met at UFC 249.

That night, Cejudo finished Cruz in the second round then retired after the fight. The promotion decided to give Aldo a title shot after he was promised one and paired him against top contender, Petr Yan (16-1) for the vacant title.

At UFC 251 on Fight Island, Yan and Aldo met for the bantamweight championship. Aldo had some good moments early, however, Yan took over late. Ultimately, Yan finished Aldo in the fifth round to become bantamweight champion.

UFC’s Bantamweight Division in 2021

We already know the first title fight, we just don’t know when. Yan was supposed to defend his title against Aljamain Sterling (19-3) at UFC 256. However, Yan had to pull out for undisclosed reasons. That fight is supposed to be setup early in 2021.

An interesting wrinkle in the division is the return of former champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw never lost his UFC title in the ring, but his suspension forced him to be stripped of the 135 pound title.

Dillashaw’s two-year suspension is up in January and he’s looking to get right back in the mix. Jose Aldo is one of the men that wants a shot at Dillashaw. Aldo is coming off of a big win against Chito Vera at UFC Vegas 17. 

The two former UFC champions could make for a very compelling matchup. Another key matchup early in the year is the matchup between Cory Sandhagen (13-2) and former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (24-8-1).

That matchup on February 6th might be a title eliminator. Rob Font (18-4) might be the one contender to watch in 2021. Font just knocked out Marlon Moraes at UFC Vegas 17. His hands looked incredibly crisp and he’s busted into the top five at bantamweight.

The UFC‘s bantamweight division is absolutely stacked. I didn’t even mention the matchup between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera that’s booked on January 20th. So many incredible matchups in that division.

Petr Yan looks like a world-beater. However, his division is full of guys who are waiting to take away that crown. So many interesting storylines and potential matchups surround the UFC’s bantamweight division entering 2021.

UFC books Frankie Edgar – Cory Sandhagen

Frankie Edgar

The UFC is currently finalizing a big-time fight at bantamweight that could be a title eliminator. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was first to report that the promotion is finalizing a bout between Frankie Edgar (24-8-1) and Cory Sandhagen (13-2).

The fight is going to take place on February 6th. Frankie Edgar is competing in his third weight class inside the UFC. The former lightweight champion of the world made his bantamweight debut back in August when he took on Pedro Munhoz.

The fight was razor close, but Edgar was able to pickup the split decision victory. That win snapped a two-fight losing streak for the former UFC lightweight champion. In all honesty, Edgar finally appears to be competing in his natural weight class.

Cory Sandhagen bounced back in a major way when he fought in October on Fight Island. Over the summer at UFC 250, Sandhagen was dominated and finished in the first 90 seconds by Aljamain Sterling.

It was a very poor performance, but Sandhagen got his shot at redemption in October when he took on Marlon Moraes. That night, Sandhagen looked rejuvenated and he was able to finish Moraes in the second round of their fight.

Sandhagen has always been looked at as a future UFC champion. He’s great on the ground and his striking has really evolved. He will be getting the biggest fight in terms of name recognition on February 6th.

State of the UFC’s Bantamweight Division

Currently the UFC is looking to book the title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling for the first quarter of 2021. Originally, they were supposed to fight at UFC 256, however, Yan had to pull out of the fight.

Given the new timeframe, it lines up perfectly with the Edgar – Sandhagen fight. The UFC‘s plan could be to have the winners of these two fights face off in the summer. While not confirmed, the Edgar – Sandhagen fight is likely going to be a title eliminator.

Another interesting wrinkle in the division is the return of TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw says he wants to return in March which could line him up for a title shot as well. My guess is whoever looks the best between the winner of this fight and Dillashaw will get the next UFC title shot.

TJ Dillashaw wants a title shot in his UFC return

On January 18th, the suspension of former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4), will officially be lifted. The MMA world has not seen Dillashaw inside a cage since January 19th of 2019.

That night, Dillashaw took on Henry Cejudo for the UFC‘s flyweight championship. Dillashaw was attempting to become a two-division world champion, however, he was caught and finished in the first 32 seconds of the fight.

The stoppage was controversial and the UFC was looking to book a rematch between the two. However, Dillashaw then announced that he was vacating his UFC bantamweight title due to a result in his pre-fight drug test.

We later found out that Dillashaw had tested positive for the performance enhancing drug, EPO. Dillashaw was suspended for two years for the positive drug test. In the span of just a couple of weeks Dillashaw went from superstardom to being shunned by the MMA community.

Now, the suspension is almost up and the former champ is anxious to get back into the cage. Dillashaw was interviewed yesterday by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto and talked about his return. Dillashaw made it clear that he’s wanting to go right to the top.

UFC title shot right away?

“They (the UFC) know I want the title fight. I want that title. I want it right away because you got a guy, Petr Yan, that beat someone for the belt who was 0-2 (Jose Aldo) in the weight division. You know, how are you calling yourself a champion,” Dillashaw told Okamoto.

The current UFC bantamweight champion, Yan, is scheduled to take on Aljamain Sterling at some point early next year. The fight was originally supposed to take place next week, but Yan had to postpone the fight.

Dillashaw also said in the interview that he’s looking to fight around March. In all honesty, I don’t see Dillashaw getting a title shot right away. There would have been a chance if Yan and Sterling had fought next week, but now, I don’t think so.

With that in mind, Dillashaw will need to fight someone in the UFC‘s top ten. A couple of names stick out including Cory Sandhagen and Frankie Edgar. A fight with either of those two makes a lot of sense for Dillashaw.

Dillashaw made it clear that he wants a UFC title shot right away. However, if he is forced to fight someone else, he wants it to be a title eliminator. One thing is for sure, and that is with the return of Dillashaw, bantamweight just got even better.