Frankie Edgar proves he’s still elite at UFC Vegas 7

There were many questions about Frankie Edgar (24-8-1) entering UFC Vegas 7. He was making his bantamweight debut at the age of 38 after spending his entire career at lightweight and featherweight.

Of course, Edgar was diving right into the deep end taking on the UFC‘s fifth ranked contender in Pedro Munhoz (18-5, 1 NC). It was a sink or swim test for Edgar in his first outing at bantamweight. After a five round war, Edgar proved that he can still swim with the best of them.

UFC Bantamweight’s Newest Contender

In an instant classic, Edgar and Munhoz went to war. Both men had big moments in the fight. Both men wobbled the other at various points, and both displayed crisp striking over five rounds.

In the end, the two of the three judges gave the split decision to the former UFC lightweight champion Edgar. It was a razor close fight, but I believe that the judges got this one right. Munhoz had big moments, but Edgar’s output and higher number of strikes landed won the fight on my scorecard as well.

One of the UFC‘s most dynamic divisions just got a little more dynamic and deep with Edgar making his successful debut. With defeating the top five ranked Munhoz, expect Edgar to be in the top five to start the week next week.

Personally, I would like to see Edgar get one more win in the division before getting a UFC title shot. Aljamain Sterling has worked for and earned the next shot, but Dana White has yet to confirm that he’s next for the UFC‘s champion, Petr Yan.

Either way, at UFC Vegas 7, Edgar proved that he belongs at bantamweight. He didn’t tire from the weight cut, and he looked just as sharp as ever. One has to wonder what it would have been like if he jumped straight to bantamweight instead of his time at featherweight.

UFC Vegas 7 Preview: Will Pedro Munhoz spoil Frankie Edgar’s bantamweight debut?

Pedro Munhoz, UFC

Tomorrow night, the UFC is back at it for their seventh event at the APEX since returning earlier this summer. In the main event of the evening, Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) will be making his bantamweight debut against Pedro Munhoz (18-4). Let’s take a dive into the main card for tomorrow night.

Munhoz welcomes Edgar to the UFC’s bantamweight division

At 38 years old, Frankie Edgar is going to be competing in his third weight class inside the UFC. He might be competing in the weight class that has been best suited for him this whole time. Pedro Munhoz is the perfect guy to test that theory.

Edgar comes down to bantamweight after losing his last two fights at featherweight although one was a short notice loss to Chan Sung Jung back in December. Edgar bailed the UFC out by taking the last minute fight to preserve a main event. He got finished for his efforts.

Before that, Edgar fought to a decision loss with then champion, Max Holloway. It was Edgar’s third featherweight title shot and he went 0-3 in those shots. Edgar is the former UFC lightweight champion and one of the better fighters of this last era.

Edgar is known for his speed, his footwork, his cardio, and his wrestling. While always being the smallest guy at lightweight and many times at featherweight, he would have an advantage in most of those categories. It’ll be interesting to see if it translates to bantamweight.

Pedro Munhoz really blew up when he knocked out former bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt, back at UFC 235. Munhoz was always considered a very solid contender, but that was the first time people really got to see him on a championship level.

Munhoz is coming off of a decision loss to top contender, Aljamain Sterling. Had Munhoz won that fight, he might have fought for the title. Munhoz has good striking with good power. He also has very good submissions with his signature being his guillotine.

This is such an interesting matchup. While you’d think the guy coming down would have the strength/power advantage, that’s not the case. I would give those advantages to the guy who’s competed at bantamweight, Munhoz.

To me, the fight comes down to how it ends. If there’s a stoppage whether it be submission or knockout, Pedro Munhoz will win this fight. If it goes the distance, Edgar’s activity will be enough. I believe Edgar is still durable enough to make it five rounds, and I think he’s going to have a close but successful debut at bantamweight tomorrow night.

Prediction: Frankie Edgar by Unanimous Decision

Ovince St. Preux vs Alonzo Menifield

After one weird fight at heavyweight, Ovince St. Preux (24-14) heads back to the UFC‘s light heavyweight division against Alonzo Menifield (9-1) in the co-main event of the evening.

OSP has been a consistent light heavyweight contender over the years. He’s got good power, good submissions, and good wrestling. He’s used those tools to get wins over guys like Corey Anderson, Shogun Rua, and Yushin Okami.

OSP most notably stepped in for Daniel Cormier to fight Jon Jones at UFC 197 for the interim light heavyweight title. While Jones won the fight, OSP at least proved that he could stand in there with the greatest of all time.

St. Preux made the choice to try to move up to heavyweight in his last fight back in May against Ben Rothwell. While OSP had moments, his lack of activity led to his split decision loss. After one attempt, it’s back to the 205 well for OSP.

Heading into UFC 250, Alonzo Menifield was 9-0 with all nine wins coming via stoppage. Six of those wins came in the first round and he never saw a third round. That all changed that night.

Devin Clark was able to withstand the power and drag Menifield into a decision fight. We saw that Menifield does not have a style that carries well over three rounds and Clark got the decision victory.

With Menifield, you know what you’re going to get. He’s a world beater in the first round and even early in the second, but if you can survive that, you should be okay. The opening minutes will say a lot about the outcome.

Can Menifield catch OSP and put him away or can St. Preux drag Menifield into some deep water. St. Preux has only been finished twice in his UFC career with the last one coming in 2016 to Jimi Manuwa.

I keep going back and forth because I can see both men winning. I can easily see Menifield getting the knockout, and I can also see OSP surviving to get a decision. With no confidence at all, I’m going to say OSP gets dropped early, but is able to survive and win the final two rounds to edge Menifield in the co-main event.

Prediction: Ovince St. Preux by Unanimous Decision

Mike Rodriguez vs Marcin Prachnio

The third fight on the main card pairs a couple of UFC light heavyweights against each other as “Slow” Mike Rodriguez (10-4, 1 NC) takes on Marcin Prachnio (13-4).

This is the first fight in two years for Prachnio. Prachnio made his UFC debut back in February of 2018 with a decent amount of hype. He came over from One Championship and was riding a eight fight winning streak.

In those eight fights, he had two decision wins and six first round knockouts. Many people were excited to see him, but he completely failed to deliver in his first two UFC fights.

The karate black belt was knocked out twice in the first round by Sam Alvey and Magomed Ankalaev. After that, he disappeared for a couple of years. Those fights were atrocious, but Prachnio does have good skills and striking. We just don’t know what were going to get with him.

Rodriguez got a contract after a flying knee knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series. However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for him inside the promotion. He’s really gone 1-3, but one of the losses was overturned to a no contest.

Rodriguez has good size and pretty good power for the division. He fights very long and will come at you with a variety of strikes on the feet. He’s awkward to fight, but he’s very effective when he’s on.

This is such a weird fight for the main card, and a difficult one to predict. Prachnio is not as bad as he looked in his first two fights, but I’m also not sold that he’s very good. Frankly, I’m not sure what to expect, but I think we see a finish in the second round in this one.

Prediction: Mike Rodriguez by TKO – Round 2

Takashi Sato vs Daniel Rodriguez

A popular fight of the night pick comes your way in the second fight of the evening as exciting UFC prospects Takashi Sato (16-3) and Daniel Rodriguez (12-1) go head-to-head.

In his last fight in June, Sato showed just how dangerous and clean his striking was. Taking on UFC newcomer, Jason Witt, Sato got the win in just 48 seconds. It was Sato’s second win by TKO since joining the promotion.

In three fights since making the jump from Pancrase, Sato is 2-1 with his one loss being to Belal Muhammad. In that fight, Muhammad dominated with his wrestling and got the submission. Sato should thrive in a matchup that is contested on the feet.

Daniel Rodriguez wasn’t given a UFC contract after his Contender Series appearance, but that didn’t slow him down. He went out and got a quick second round finish in his next fight to get the call up to the big leagues.

In two fights, Rodriguez has a submission over Tim Means and a decision of Gabriel Green. Rodriguez has tremendous power and very good striking. He also has good submission skills if the fight hits the mat.

In analyzing this fight, I keep thinking about striking technique. This fight should be a stand up war, and I like Sato’s technique more. I also believe that he has a little more diversity in his attack. This is another close matchup, but I like Sato in this one.

Prediction: Takashi Sato by Unanimous Decision

Mariya Agapova vs Shana Dobson

The opening fight of the main card is truly a showcase fight for flyweight prospect Mariya Agapova (9-1) as she takes on Shana Dobson (3-4).

At just 23 years old, Agapova is one of the brightest prospects in women’s MMA. She’s good on the feet, she’s good on the ground, she’s honestly good everywhere. Agapova is the true total package.

In her UFC debut back in June, she absolutely stormed through Hannah Cifers. It was her third straight first round finish (two by submission). Agapova looks to be the real deal in the flyweight division.

Dobson comes into this fight on a three fight losing streak. She’s a veteran of the Ultimate Fighter, but if you count her stint on the show, she’s just 1-4 in her last five fights. That one win wasn’t very impressive either.

There is really not an area of this fight where I believe Dobson has an advantage. In a way she’s playing the role of sacrificial lamb. Her only chance is really to land a flukey punch. I don’t foresee this fight going very long.

Prediction: Mariya Agapova by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) – Round 1

UFC Vegas 7 Outlook

This is such a fun fight card when you break it down. UFC on Vegas 7 has five main card fights, and four of them could truly go either way. I’m very curious to see how Frankie Edgar looks in his bantamweight debut. If Munhoz can spoil the party, it’ll be the biggest win of his career.

UFC: Edgar – Munhoz moved again; will headline August 22nd card

Well, the anticipation of former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar‘s bantamweight debut will continue to grow.

UFC’s New Headliner

That’s right, for the fourth time, the UFC has booked Edgar against Pedro Munhoz (18-4). The fight was originally going to take place on the UFC 251 PPV.

Then the fight was pushed back to be the co-main event on UFC Fight Island 1. However, Munhoz tested positive for COVID-19 which scrapped the fight altogether.

The promotion worked quickly and was able to book the fight for the main card of UFC 252 in August. Of course, now we know that this fight will once again be on the move.

Nothing official has been released by the promotion, but the lack of a main event for their August 22nd card is the likely reason for the switch. More than likely, they were trying to pull together a main event that never materialized.

So now, Frankie Edgar – Pedro Munhoz has been booked for it’s fourth fight card. Hopefully everyone makes it to August 22nd healthy so we can all see this anticipated bantamweight matchup that has big implications for the division.

With the addition of Edgar – Munhoz, the August 22nd card is really looking strong. Here is the full card as of now for the UFC’s Fight Night on August 22nd:

  • Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar
  • Uriah Hall vs. Yoel Romero
  • Shamil Gamzatov vs. Ovince Saint Preux
  • Mariya Agapova vs. Shana Dobson
  • Mizuki Inoue vs. Amanda Lemos
  • Angela Hill vs. Michelle Waterson

UFC: Aljamain Sterling still not confirmed as number one contender

After UFC 250 back in June, there was little doubt in the MMA community as to who was the number one contender in the bantamweight division.

Aljamain Sterling (19-3) steamrolled Cory Sandhagen in 88 seconds in what was supposed to be a title eliminator. Everyone (including myself) made the assumption that Sterling would be next for the UFC bantamweight title.

However, UFC president Dana White has yet to confirm Sterling as the next contender. White is usually pretty firm about the next guys in line. Just look at how he’s talking about Gilbert Burns. White was asked about Sterling at the post-fight press conference last night.

Who is the UFC’s top bantamweight contender?

White continues to evade from confirming Sterling as the next contender for Petr Yan’s first title defense. Yan (15-1) just won the vacant UFC bantamweight title a little over a week ago on Fight Island.

I just can’t help but think that if Sterling is not the next contender, who is? The only two guys ranked around Sterling are Marlon Moraes and Cody Garbrandt. Those two guys are rumored to be fighting in October.

Yan has said that he wants to defend his title for the first time in October. So that would rule out those two. Sandhagen just lost to Sterling and Aldo just lost to Yan. The only other guy in the top six is Pedro Munhoz who is fighting Frankie Edgar at UFC 252.

Is it possible that the UFC is waiting to see if Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) can defeat Munhoz at UFC 252? Are they thinking more about name recognition instead of resume?

Whatever the reason, it just doesn’t make sense. Despite the chaos in other divisions, the bantamweight division seems very clear. There is a true number one contender and his name is Aljamain Sterling.

 

Frankie Edgar – Pedro Munhoz moved to UFC 252 main card

Over the weekend, the main card was officially announced for UFC 252. A couple of exciting bantamweight fights will be on the main card. One featuring the Suga Show, the other featuring the bantamweight debut of Frankie Edgar (23-8-1).

From Fight Island to the UFC APEX

Edgar was scheduled to make his bantamweight debut this week on Fight Island. The former lightweight champ just signed a new deal ahead of this fight.

This is the third weight class that Edgar will have competed in during his UFC run. This also might be the first time that Edgar is fighting at his natural weight.

The UFC didn’t give him an easy first fight pairing him with Pedro Munhoz (18-1, 1 NC). Their fight was scheduled to be the co-main event this week, but a positive COVID-19 test nixed the fight.

Edgar was offered a few replacements, but he seemed content with waiting for Munhoz. Munhoz will have been cleared by the time August rolls around, so the the fight was shifted to the main card of UFC 252.

The bantamweight division is quickly turning into the most dynamic and deep division in the UFC. This is such an exciting matchup, and you have the company’s future superstar also competing on the same card.

UFC: Pedro Munhoz out of Frankie Edgar fight after positive COVID-19 test

Pedro Munhoz, UFC

COVID-19 has taken down another UFC fight. UFC bantamweight contender, Pedro Munhoz (18-4, 1 NC), has been removed from his fight with Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) on July 15th after testing positive for COVID-19. Munhoz becomes the second fighter since Friday to have a fight scrapped due to COVID-19 after Gilbert Burns lost his title shot to the disease.

Next Steps for the UFC

At first, the plan was to scrap Edgar from the UFC‘s July 15th card and look to re-book his bantamweight debut. However, there have been a couple of bantamweights who are on Fight Island who have thrown their names into the ring as potential replacements for Munhoz.

The UFC is in a very fortunate spot to have two guys, who are fringe top-15 bantamweights, ready to step in for Munhoz. Marlon Vera (15-6-1) is coming off of a razor close decision loss to Yadong Song while Ricky Simon (16-3) is coming off of a win against Ray Borg back at UFC Fight Night 171.

Either man would make for a quality replacement for Munhoz. The fact is, Edgar needs a good test in his first fight at 135 pounds. Very and Simon would both give Edgar a really good fight in his bantamweight debut. Edgar has been putting in the work to get the pounds down, and he just signed a new deal ahead of the July 15th fight. I’m not sure who the UFC will go with, but I think we should get a resolution on this in the next day or so.

 

UFC: Frankie Edgar signs new deal ahead of bantamweight debut on Fight Island

Former UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) will be fighting on a new contract when he fights on Fight Island this month. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Edgar has resigned with the UFC prior to his fight against Pedro Munhoz (18-4) on July 15th

One more UFC title run?

The former lightweight champion will be making his bantamweight debut on July 15th. Just over ten years ago, Edgar shocked the world when he beat BJ Penn for the UFC‘s lightweight championship. Edgar went on a title run before losing the strap to Benson Henderson in 2012. Since then, UFC gold has evaded Edgar.

Following a second loss to Henderson, Edgar dropped down to featherweight. Edgar immediately got a title shot against Jose Aldo. “The Answer” lost that fight, but would get back to a title fight two more times during his featherweight run. Edgar would go 0-3 in his three UFC title fights at featherweight.

Edgar has always been small for the weight classes that he’s been in. With the move to bantamweight, Edgar might finally be in his true weight class. Edgar is hoping to become one of the few men in UFC history to hold a belt in multiple weight classes. His journey starts on July 15th.

Big Challenges Ahead

Frankie Edgar is not opposed to tough fights. He’s spent his entire UFC career fighting the best of the best. He’s jumping right into the deep end on July 15th with his matchup against Munhoz. Munhoz is coming off of a loss to Aljamain Sterling, but prior to that, he knocked out former champion, Cody Garbrandt. Munhoz has solid overall skills and will provide a big test for Edgar. If Edgar is able to pick up the win, I would expect him to shoot up those bantamweight rankings quickly.

UFC: Most intriguing and under the radar fights on Fight Island

UFC, Dana White

Next month, the UFC will be taking over Abu Dhabi for four events in just 14 days. The UFC kicks off Fight Island with the best card of the year at UFC 251. That card features three title fights including the headliner between Kamaru Usman (16-1) and Gilbert Burns (19-3) for the welterweight title. All of the cards are absolutely stacked on Fight Island. With that in mind, let’s look at an under the radar fight from each of the first four cards in Abu Dhabi.

UFC 251 – July 11th

The card on July 11th is absolutely sick. Three title fights and a rematch between the top two female strawweights in the world all on the main card. However, there is a light heavyweight matchup that I’m extremely interested in. That would be the matchup between former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir (17-4), and the Rizin light heavyweight champion, Jiri Prochazka (26-3-1).

While a lot of people might not know him, Prochazka is one of the more exciting signings that the UFC has made in a while. He enters the UFC on a ten-fight winning streak including nine knockouts. He’s finished his last eight opponents including seven in the first round. Oezdemir has won back-to-back fights after losing three in a row. He’s looking to get back to a title shot, and a win might get him there. A win for either one of these men will vault them into the title discussion at 205. Jon Jones’ future in the division is in question. If he continues to fight, he’s likely going to be moving to heavyweight soon. The light heavyweight division could be on the verge of becoming wide open.

UFC on ESPN 13 – July 15th

Just a few days after UFC 251, we get a rare Wednesday night card that will be headlined between Calvin Kattar (21-4) and Dan Ige (14-2). There are a number of great fights including a strawweight matchup between Carla Esparza (16-6) and Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2). However, the one fight that somehow is flying under the radar is the co-main event between Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) and Pedro Munhoz (18-4).

“The Answer” is going to be making his bantamweight debut against one of the best guys in the world. The former lightweight champion is still trying to get back to UFC gold after losing his title years ago. Edgar dropped to featherweight, and had three title shots in his run there. He lost all three which has resulted in him dropping one more time to bantamweight. Edgar was very small at lightweight, small at featherweight, but will finally fit in at 135 pounds. Just like with everything in Edgar’s career, he’s jumping right in with the sharks in his debut.

Prior to his loss to Aljamain Sterling a year ago, Pedro Munhoz was on a roll. He had won three fights in a row including a knockout over former champion, Cody Garbrandt. Munhoz is no easy task for anyone in the division. I’m very curious to see this fight play out on July 15th. I’m putting it on the list today because I’m shocked at how little people are talking about this incredible fight. This fight was initially scheduled to be at UFC 251, but it was bumped a few days to beef up the Wednesday card.

UFC on ESPN 14 – July 18th

On July 18th the UFC will have another fight night that will be headlined by a flyweight title fight. Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) and Joseph Benavidez (28-6) will have their rematch for the vacant title. They fought back in February, and Figueiredo won the fight by stoppage. However, since he missed weight in the fight, nobody won the title. The UFC decided to run the fight immediately back with the hope that he can make weight this time. Speaking of the flyweight division, there is a fight that most people probably don’t know about that’s really caught my eyes on this card.

I’m very interested in the flyweight contest between top Russian prospect, Askar Askarov (11-0-1) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-4). Russian MMA is on fire right now, and one of the brighter prospects is Askarov. He fought to a draw in his UFC debut against Brandon Moreno, but bounced back with a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger, Tim Elliot. Pantoja is no easy task for the Russian. Pantoja is 6-2 in his UFC career with wins over Brandon Moreno and Wilson Reis. This is a very interesting matchup in the flyweight division. With both guys ranked in the top seven, the winner of this fight could very well be next in line to fight the winner of the main event.

UFC on ESPN 15 – July 25th

The final card of the month is loaded. The main event of the evening is a title eliminator in the middleweight division between former champion, Robert Whittaker (20-5), and Darren Till (18-2-1). While the card is stacked, the one matchup that I’m very curious about is in the heavyweight division. Former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1), will be taking on Alexander Gustafsson (18-6) in “The Mauler’s” heavyweight debut.

After some trouble with USADA, the former champion made his return back in May. Werdum really didn’t look that great in his return. Maybe you could attribute that to ring-rust after two years off. Werdum will also be getting ready to turn 43-years-old when he fights Gustafsson. Gustafsson surprised many when he retired last June after losing to Anthony Smith at UFC Fight Night 153. Gustafsson was just one fight removed from his loss to Jon Jones. Gustafsson is one of the best fighters to never taste UFC gold. He’s constantly been one of the best guys in the world, but he never has been able to climb the mountain all the way. I’m very curious to see how he looks at heavyweight. If this fight stays on the feet, the speed that Gustafsson has could really showcase well here, if it goes to the ground, I’m not sure how “The Mauler” will hold up.

A July to Remember

As a fight fan, you live for months like July. Four events in just two weeks time. The cards are all stacked from top to bottom. While other major sports in the world are still trying to figure it out, the UFC is churning out one of the more anticipated months in the sports history.

Report: Zabit Magomedsharipov-Yair Rodriguez targeted for Aug. 29th

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

A big-time UFC featherweight contest that was originally scheduled two years ago, looks like it’s finally going to come together on the UFC‘s planned August 29th card. The contest would pair two top five featherweights against each other in Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) and Yair Rodriguez (13-2-1).

Zabit’s UFC Dominance

Since joining the UFC back in 2017, Magomedsharipov has been nothing short of dominant. The lengthy 6’1 featherweight holds a UFC record of 6-0. These days, the world of Russian MMA is on fire. You have the most dominant champion in the sport in Khabib Nurmagomedov, then you have Petr Yan who is getting ready to challenge for the bantamweight title, then there’s Zabit. Zabit is such a unique talent with a unique skillset especially for the 145 pound division. His last two fights were big step-ups in competition, and he passed those with flying colors. In his last fight, he defeated Calvin Kattar (21-4) back at UFC Fight Night 163. Kattar gave Zabit his toughest test yet, but the Russian was able to pull of the unanimous decision victory. This fight with Rodriguez was supposed to happen two years ago before an injury pulled Yair out of the fight. It will be very hard to deny Zabit of a title shot if he wins in August. We might have three Russian UFC champions by the end of this calendar year.

Rodriguez living up to his potential

Back in 2017, there might not have been a more exciting prospect in the UFC than Yair Rodriguez. “El Pantera” had highlight reel finishes over Andre Fili and UFC Hall of Famer, BJ Penn. He got his first real test against former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar. Rodriguez showed that he wasn’t quite ready for that step-up as Edgar completely dismantled Rodriguez. Doctors had to stop the fight after the second round. Injuries kept Rodriguez out of the UFC for over a year after that fight. Upon his return, he had an incredible come from behind knockout victory over Chan Sung Jung. Following that fight, he had a pair of fights with Jeremy Stephens. The first fight ended in fifteen seconds after Stephens was accidentally poked in the eye and couldn’t continue. In the second fight, Rodriguez showed just how dynamic he could be, beating Stephens by unanimous decision. For Rodriguez, this fight is his chance to really prove he’s finally arrived at the top of the sport. It would be hard to deny Rodriguez the title shot if he’s able to defeat Magomedsharipov. Jung is the other likely contender for a title shot if he’s able to defeat Brian Ortega, but with Rodriguez holding a knockout win over Jung, Rodriguez might be next in line.

UFC’s Featherweight Division

The UFC‘s featherweight division is heating up much like the bantamweight division. The UFC‘s lower weight classes (excluding flyweight) are so deep it’s crazy. Back at UFC 250, the bantamweights put on a show. We all know how insane the UFC’s lightweight division is, and now the featherweights are showing their strength. Next month on Fight Island, you have the title fight and rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway. Later this year we should see the “Korean Zombie” and Brian Ortega fight, and now it looks like were getting the Magomedsharipov-Rodriguez fight in August. It’s going to be an insane rest of the year for the UFC’s featherweight division.

UFC: Landscape of the Bantamweight Division prior to UFC 250

Less than a month ago, Henry Cejudo (16-2) stopped Dominick Cruz (22-3) in the second round at UFC 249 to retain his bantamweight title. To the surprise of pretty much everyone, “Triple C” announced in the Octagon that he was leaving the sport following the Cruz victory. Cejudo said he felt like there was nothing left for him to accomplish and hinted that he wasn’t getting paid enough to stick around for any additional fights. With Cejudo out of the mix, the bantamweight division is wide open. While we do have some clarity in the title picture, the rest of the division is wide open with a lot of intriguing possibilities.

Yan vs. Aldo for the Title

UFC President, Dana White, came out last week and announced that Patr Yan (14-1) and former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (28-6) would be fighting sometime this summer for the vacant bantamweight title. It was a fight that personally left me a little surprised. Jose Aldo is coming off of a loss in his divisional debut to Marlon Moraes (23-6) back at UFC 245 although many people including myself believe that Aldo won the fight. Aldo was called out by the former champion despite losing the fight on the scorecards. Because Cejudo wanted to fight him, Aldo was granted the title shot. With Cejudo out of the picture, I figured the UFC would pivot to someone at least coming off of a win. However, the UFC is still giving the former featherweight king the shot. Yan is the one guy in the equation who you cannot deny deserves the shot. He should have been in line ahead of Aldo in the first place. Yan is 5-0 since joining the UFC and has looked spectacular in every outing. He’s coming off an incredible win where he demolished UFC Hall of Famer, Urijah Faber. With Cejudo gone, Yan is the #1 guy in that division if you ask me. It will be a very interesting fight when he and Aldo square off given their skillsets. If you would have asked me a few years ago who would win, I would lean towards Aldo. However, if you ask me tonight as I’m writing this, I would lean towards the Russian, Yan. It will be a fun fight that fight fans should be looking forward to at some point this summer.

UFC 250 Has Big Implications

The rest of the division is completely wide open. There are two fights scheduled for UFC 250 which should help narrow down the contenders a bit, but it’s still not easy figuring out who would be next in line after the Yan/Aldo fight. Using the UFC’s rankings, #2 Aljamain Sterling (18-3), and #4 Cory Sandhagen (12-1) will be squaring off next Saturday in a fight that on paper would likely indicate the challenger for the winner of the Yan/Aldo fight. Sterling has rattled off four consecutive wins and Sandhagen is unbeaten since joining the UFC. A lot of people believed that Sterling should have been given the title shot over Aldo. The same night of the Sterling/Sandhagan fight we have former bantamweight champion, #9 Cody Garbrandt (11-3), and #5 Raphael Assuncao squaring off. Garbrandt was on the fast track to stardom after he dethroned Dominick Cruz for the title back in December of 2016. “No Love” was a knockout artist who looked like he could lead the division for the long haul. Garbrandt’s career has completely been derailed since that victory over Cruz. Garbrandt has dealt with numerous injuries and has been knocked out in three consecutive fights. This is a fight that could get him going back in the right direction. Assuncao, who is 11-3 in his last 14 fights, has been on the cusp of a title shot numerous times. Right before he’d get the shot someone would beat him. Back at UFC 200, it was TJ Dillashaw, then at UFC Fight Night 144 it was Marlon Moraes. Both guys were previously defeated by Assuncao, but he would fall to them both when a title shot was on the line. A win over Garbrandt could once again get Assuncao close to a title shot.

“The Answer” Drops Down

Last week there was another big announcement for the UFC’s bantamweight division in that former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (23-8) would be dropping down to 135 to make his debut against #7 Pedro Munhoz (18-4). The last time we saw “The Answer” he was certainly not at his best. Edgar took a short notice fight against Chan Sung Jung and was taken out early in the first round. That loss came on the heels of his title loss to former featherweight champ, Max Holloway. Edgar hasn’t held UFC gold since 2011 and this drop to 135 is looked at as his last chance to win a title. Edgar had a solid run at featherweight but went 0-3 in his title opportunities. Now, Edgar is moving to the weight class he probably should have been in for a long time. Pedro Munhoz will be standing across from Edgar after a year layoff following a loss to Aljamain Sterling back at UFC 238. Going into the Sterling fight, Munhoz was riding a three-fight win streak which included a knockout of former champion, Cody Garbrandt. Munhoz is an extremely tough customer for Edgar’s first fight in the bantamweight division, but you wouldn’t expect anything less for Edgar. With his history, an impressive win over Munhoz on July 11th could vault Edgar right into title contention. I would like to see him get a couple of wins at 135 before getting a shot, but with the UFC, you never know.

What About GOATs?

With no disrespect to Henry Cejudo, the two greatest bantamweights of all time are Dominick Cruz and TJ Dillashaw. Yes, Cejudo did beat both, but he beat an older Dominick Cruz who hadn’t fought in three years and he beat a very depleted TJ Dillashaw at flyweight. When it comes to the body of work and longevity, the two best ever at 135 are Cruz and Dillashaw. So where do they fit into all of this? TJ Dillashaw popped for EPO back in January of 2019 after his loss to Henry Cejudo. Dillashaw had never failed a drug test before, but admitted he used it to assist him in having the energy to get himself down to 125 pounds. Dillashaw was suspended for two years, but that suspension will be up in January. Dillashaw thinks that he could warrant a title shot once he returns, but I’m not convinced the UFC will go in that direction.

Then you have Dominick Cruz. Cruz looked a step off in his fight against Cejudo at UFC 249. It was his first fight since the Garbrandt loss back at UFC 207 and he did not appear to be very sharp. In his time away from the sport due to injuries, Cruz continued to perfect the craft of being a commentator appearing on many of the UFC’s events over the last few years. Cruz is primed for a career at the booth once his career is over, but I’m not convinced he’s done just yet. He hinted that he might have retired if he would have won the belt from Cejudo, but I can’t see Cruz going out after that loss especially ending the way it did. So if Cruz isn’t going to retire and Dillashaw doesn’t get the title shot, what do you do with both of them? You can probably see where I’m going in suggesting you have them headline a card in January. I don’t see Cruz taking a fight against just anybody in the division and he might want to give himself a long training camp before his next fight. Dillashaw is going to need a big name for his return, and the two have a history with Cruz edging out Dillashaw for the title back in 2016. A fight between these two makes a ton of sense to me and I would not be shocked to see this fight announced in the fall.

Where’s the Magic?

I feel like someone is missing from all these potential matchups. Well, how about the UFC’s #1 ranked Bantamweight Marlon Moraes. I’ve mentioned Moraes a few times, but I haven’t talked about who he’s fighting next. Well, that’s because there’s no fight currently scheduled for him. Moraes, according to Dana White, was going to fight Yan in June, but that fight has been scrapped in favor of the title fight mentioned above. At this point, there’s not anyone for Moraes to fight that wouldn’t be a big step down in competition with most of the top ten already booked. At this point, I guess the UFC will likely pair Moraes up with one of the winners from UFC 250. You honestly have to feel for Moraes who holds wins over Aldo, Sterling, and Assuncao yet seems to be without a dance partner. If I had to take a guess, if Aljamain Sterling wins at UFC 250, he will likely get the next shot at the title. That would mean that the UFC will likely pair Moraes up with either Assuncao for the third time or he will fight former champion Cody Garbandt in his next fight. Of course, that is all speculative at this point.

Stacked Division, Stacked Fights

The UFC’s bantamweight division is incredibly stacked as we’ve laid out in this article. I didn’t even mention guys like Sugar Sean O’Malley, Jimmie Rivera, Urijah Faber, John Dodson, Song Yadong, and Marlon Vera in this article. With no champion, this talented weight class has entered chaos in the best possible way. There are so many fun matchups that are already scheduled and there are so many fun matchups to day-dream about. This division will become a lot more clear over the next six weeks, but until then, let the chaos commence.