State of the bantamweight division after UFC 259

UFC 259 was supposed to provide some clarity in the bantamweight division. While Petr Yan (15-2) was the champion, many questioned how legit he was as the champion seeing as the two wins he had leading to the title came against Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo (29-7).

While both are great former champions, neither are considered to be the cream of the crop at 135 pounds. Aljamain Sterling (20-3) on the other hands was considered by everyone to be the number one contender.

Sterling had been on an incredible run and was expected to be the biggest challenge for Yan. Had Yan defeated Sterling, you couldn’t question the legitimacy of his title reign. Well, for almost four rounds at UFC 259, it looked like we were heading that direction.

Aljamain Sterling was putting up a good fight, but Petr Yan was in control on Saturday night. Sterling was fading badly and it looked like we were getting close to a potential Petr Yan stoppage win. However, that’s when chaos erupted.

With about 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Aljamain Sterling was grounded with one knee on the floor. Yan looked to his corner for instructions and someone said he was good to throw a knee. Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush in the temple.

That knee ultimately prevented Sterling from being able to continue. As a result, Yan was disqualified and Sterling won the title. While Sterling was on his way to losing, he gets a DQ win and walked out of UFC 259 the bantamweight champion.

State of the UFC’s bantamweight division

With all of this controversy, Dana White said that the UFC will immediately book the rematch between Sterling and Yan. While Sterling has the title, there’s virtually no one that views him as the champion with him winning in that fashion.

To me, it’s almost like the title is vacant. I don’t think either man should have the title at the moment, but my opinion doesn’t matter. Sterling will go into the rematch with Yan as the bantamweight champion.

With that rematch in the works, the UFC will now look to book Cory Sandhagen (14-2) against former champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw is eligible to fight now that he’s off suspension and Dana White said he would be in a title eliminator in his first fight back.

Considering the spots in the division, it appears that Dillashaw and Sandhagen are on a collision course. The next spot in the rankings belongs to Rob Font (18-4). In my opinion, I would love to see Font fight former UFC champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3) next.

However, Garbrandt has been chasing a fight with Jose Aldo next. If that happens, Font will need a new fight. Based on the rankings, the only fight that would make sense for Font is Pedro Munhoz (19-5, 1 NC).

Munhoz is in the top ten and he’s coming off of a very impressive win against Jimmie Rivera. Prior to that he lost a debatable decision to Frankie Edgar. Had that decision gone towards Munhoz, he’d be in the top five right now. The promotion will get these guys paired up and it should be an exciting 2021 at 135.

TJ Dillashaw still wants a UFC title shot in return, but will settle for a top five opponent

Former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4) is getting anxious to make his octagon return. Dillashaw’s suspension for a positive EPO test ended in January and he’s been preparing to get back into the cage.

The former champion has been very vocal about wanting a UFC title shot when he returns. Dillashaw never lost the bantamweight title inside the cage. He had dropped down to fight Henry Cejudo at flyweight when he was popped for EPO.

After the positive test, Dillashaw released a statement saying he was giving up his UFC title. Shortly after that, Dillashaw was suspended for two years. During his time off, Dillashaw got some much needed surgeries to get his body ready for this next push in his career.

The top bantamweights have been vocal in wanting to fight Dillashaw. However, they’ve also been very vocal about believing he doesn’t deserve a title shot considering the reasoning behind him losing the title.

While Dillashaw has been adamant that he wants a UFC title shot in his return, he is starting to change his tune a little. Perhaps he’s starting to get the feeling that a title shot is not likely for his comeback fight.

UFC title shot or top five

The former UFC bantamweight champion appeared on “Real Quick with Mike Swick” to talk about what he wants next. As mentioned, Dillashaw still wants a title shot, but he’s more open to other possibilities with his return imminent.

“I’m ready to go straight for the belt. If that’s the opportunity that comes at me because I know Yan wants it… I didn’t leave this sport by losing my belt. He knows there’s a lot of speculation if he’s the real champ because he hasn’t beaten the champion to get that belt,” Dillashaw said.

The former UFC champion did say that his return is about proving to the world that he’s the best bantamweight of all time. If that means he has to take on a top five opponent when he returns, Dillashaw is willing to do that as well.

“I want to come back and prove that I’m the best bantamweight of all time. I want to come back and fight the best. If that’s for the belt right away then so be it. If that’s fighting someone else in the top five, awesome,” Dillashaw said. Whoever he fights in his UFC return, you can imagine there will be a lot of eyes on TJ Dillashaw.

UFC books Song Yadong – Kyler Phillips

The UFC has added another really solid matchup to one of the more stacked cards they’ve put together in recent memory. First reported by Bloody Canvas, Song Yadong (16-4-1, 1 NC) will be taking on Kyler Phillips (8-1).

The fight will take place on March 6th at UFC 259. Of course, that PPV card is already known for having three title fights including the light heavyweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz.

Because of the stacked nature of UFC 259, this fight is going to be one that flies under the radar. However, this bantamweight matchup is definitely one fans should keep their eyes on. It’ll likely be one of the main prelims that night.

Song Yadong is a bantamweight that has a lot of hype surrounding him. The Chinese born bantamweight contender is one of the top stars out of the famous Team Alpha Male led by Urijah Faber.

We haven’t seen Yadong fight since his fight with Chito Vera (16-7-1) that took place in May of 2020. Yadong walked away with the unanimous decision, however, many believed he shouldn’t have had his hand raised.

Nevertheless, it goes into the books as a victory. Since making his debut in 2017 with the UFC, Yadong has been sensational. He’s 5-0-1 and will enter the octagon on March 6th ranked 14th at Bantamweight.

UFC Bantamweight Battle

This is going to be a big step up for Kyler Phillips at UFC 259. Phillips was introduced to Dana White and the company brass back in 2017 when he won by first round TKO on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Despite the quick finish, Phillips had to fight two more times before joining the UFC. He made his debut in 2020 when he took on Gabriel Silva. He was able to win that fight by unanimous decision before taking on Cameron Else.

Phillips was able to score a second round TKO over Else on Fight Island back in October. After two good victories to start out his career with the UFC, the promotion is throwing him someone in the top fifteen.

This is going to be a very difficult matchup for Phillips, but getting an opponent of this caliber shows you what the promotion thinks of him. It’s a pivotal matchup for the two bantamweight prospects.

UFC: State of the Amanda Nunes divisions entering 2021

As we get ready to enter 2021, the UFC‘s bantamweight and featherweight divisions are still controlled by the GOAT, Amanda Nunes (20-4). Nunes has held both titles since December of 2018 when she knocked out Cris Cyborg at UFC 232.

Since making her UFC debut back in 2013, Nunes has gone 13-1 with her lone loss coming to Cat Zingano. That fight occurred when Nunes will still coming into her own inside the octagon.

After that loss, she’s hardly looked human. Only Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie have even been competitive. Every one else has been destroyed by Nunes inside a UFC octagon.

In 2020, we only saw the two-division champion once. She defended her featherweight title against Felicia Spencer back at UFC 250. It was one of the more one-sided title fights you will ever see in the UFC.

Nunes was scheduled to face Megan Anderson (11-4) at UFC 256, but she had to pull out of the fight. The fight has been rescheduled and Megan Anderson will get her shot at the two-division champion at UFC 259.

UFC Bantamweight & Featherweight Overview

Nunes has said that she plans on being very active in 2021. She wants to defend both of her titles and her current plan is to fight at bantamweight after this first title defense against Megan Anderson at featherweight.

After Anderson, it’s not clear on what’s next for Nunes at featherweight. The UFC has been trying to acquire talent for that division, however, they still don’t have enough to even fill out the rankings.

Bantamweight is a different story. The clear number one contender in the division is de Randamie. Germaine de Randamie made her UFC debut back in 2013 and she has only been defeated twice in the octagon.

Both of those losses came to Amanda Nunes. Last December, the two fought at UFC 245. Nunes clearly won the fight, but de Randamie showed that she has the ability to stand up with the champion. De Randamie just fought and put Julianna Pena to sleep with a choke in October.

A fight that I could see the UFC doing is the rematch between de Randamie and Holly Holm. Holm is the former bantamweight champion and she’s won two straight. Her last performance against Irene Aldana was sensational.

Holm and de Randamie fought for the featherweight title back in 2017 with de Randamie edging that one out. I could see the UFC putting those two together in a title eliminator while Nunes defends at featherweight.

While these divisions won’t see a lot of fresh faces and new contenders, it’s still going to be fun watching Nunes continue her UFC reign in 2021. Maybe someone can pull off a miracle and dethrone her. Time will tell on that one.

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 Dominick Cruz – Casey Kenney

The former UFC bantamweight champion is back. Today, MMA Junkie reported that the promotion is booking Dominick Cruz (22-3) against Casey Kenney (16-2-1) in March. The fight will take place at the proposed UFC 259 PPV.

This news came out of no where and is honestly a tad stunning. After Dominick Cruz lost to Henry Cejudo back at UFC 249, it wasn’t clear on if he was going to continue to fight. Cruz has made a career for himself at the broadcast table.

However, it appears that the former UFC champion is still wanting to keep his fighting career alive. Cruz is one of the best bantamweights of all time, however, his career has been famously derailed by injuries.

Due to injuries, Cruz has only fought five times in the last nine years. Prior to his title fight at UFC 249 against Cejudo, Cruz had been out for three and a half years. He will enter the cage on a two-fight losing streak.

Cruz lost his UFC title to Cody Garbrandt back in December of 2016. That night, Cruz seemed just a step behind Garbrandt. Following that loss, injuries kept him out until the Cejudo fight. Cruz was finished in the second round by Triple C.

UFC 259 Bantamweight Clash

To be honest, I’m a tad surprised by the opponent choice for Dominick Cruz. Sure, Cruz has lost two in a row and has been out of the cage a lot, but I was still expecting a more high profile opponent for him in his next fight.

Casey Kenney is getting a massive opportunity at UFC 259 taking on the former champion. Kenney is 5-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to Merab Dvalishvili back in February. He’s won three straight to close out 2020.

Despite the winning streak, Kenney still finds himself outside of the UFC‘s top 15. However, if he’s able to pickup a win over Dominick Cruz, that would be a massive bump for his career. Should be a fun one when March rolls around.

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.

UFC books Pedro Munhoz – Jimmie Rivera 2

Pedro Munhoz, UFC

The UFC has booked a big time bantamweight matchup for their card on January 30th. First reported by MMA Junkie, the promotion has finalized a rematch between top bantamweights Pedro Munhoz (18-5, 1 NC) and Jimmie Rivera (23-4).

These two top ten UFC bantamweights first fought back in 2015. That night, Rivera was able to edge Pedro Munhoz by split decision. For Jimmie Rivera, he will be looking to pick up his second consecutive victory.

The last time we saw Rivera was back on July 15th when he took on Cody Stamann. That night, Rivera was able to snap his two fight losing streak and pick up the unanimous decision victory.

Rivera has been one of the best bantamweights inside the UFC for some time now. Since joining the promotion back in 2015, he’s lost three times but those three opponents were Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, and Marlon Moraes.

Outside of those three, Rivera hasn’t been challenged much in the UFC. He’s gone to a decision multiple times and the only man to have forced a split decision will be the guy he’s taking on January 30th.

UFC bantamweight showdown

Pedro Munhoz will be trying to avenge the first Rivera loss and get back on the winning side of things on January 30th. Munhoz has lost two which is the first time that’s happened to him in his UFC career.

Munhoz is coming off of a split decision loss to Frankie Edgar back in August. The former UFC lightweight champion was making his bantamweight debut against Munhoz. In a five round war, either man could have walked away with their hand raised.

The majority of media members believed that Munhoz won that fight. However, the judges gave it to the former UFC champion. Prior to that loss, Munhoz had lost a unanimous decision to Aljamain Sterling which snapped a three fight winning streak.

Both of these men are looking to take another step towards the UFC title. A win is massively important for both, however, there has to be a ton of pressure on Munhoz having lost two in a row. Should be a fun one on January 30th.

Will the UFC book Frankie Edgar – Cory Sandhagen?

Frankie Edgar

One of the more exciting divisions in the UFC right now is the bantamweight division. Just in the past few months, there has been a slew of incredible fights and a new champion was crowned. The division is stacked and loaded with talent.

One of those guys is the former UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (24-8-1). The Answer made his bantamweight debut back in August when he defeated Pedro Munhoz in an excellent fight. This is the third UFC weight class for Edgar.

With the win and his name recognition, Edgar established himself near the top of the division. Edgar is also teammates with Marlon Moraes. Moraes is another top ten bantamweight who fought for the UFC title just last year.

Moraes is coming off of a loss a few weeks ago at the hands of Cory Sandhagen (13-2). Sandhagen bounced back from his first loss in the UFC to destroy Marlon Moraes. It was the best performance of Sandhagen’s career.

After the fight was over, Sandhagen had a couple of names on his wish list. One of the names being former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. While the other was Frankie Edgar. This got Edgar’s attention, and he wants the fight.

Will the UFC make it happen?

Either one of the options that Sandhagen mentioned would be good options for the UFC. Dillashaw was the champion before he was suspended by USADA. You can expect him to be right back in the mix upon his return.

However, two years off is a long time off. We don’t know what kind of TJ Dillashaw we are going to see when he comes back. We know exactly what we are going to get from Frankie Edgar. Edgar looked rejuvenated in his last UFC victory at bantamweight.

If the UFC books Sandhagen – Edgar, the winner would be first in line to fight for the title. At UFC 256, Petr Yan is defending his title against Aljamain Sterling. It makes sense that their be a title eliminator around the same time. I think Edgar – Sandhagen is going to be the UFC‘s first option.

TJ Dillashaw’s UFC return is upon us

The former two time UFC bantamweight champion is getting ready to make his return to the octagon. In about three months, the suspension will be lifted from TJ Dillashaw (16-4) and he will once again be allowed to compete in the UFC.

A couple of years ago, Dillashaw was riding an incredible wave in the UFC. He had regained his bantamweight title by knocking out Cody Garbrandt, then he knocked Garbrandt out again in the rematch that took place at UFC 227.

Following that, Dillashaw attempted to do something that only Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Amanda Nunes had done. Dillashaw wanted to become a two division champion and hold both belts at the same time.

Dillashaw’s task was to take out the UFC‘s flyweight king, Henry Cejudo. TJ Dillashaw appeared to nearly kill himself making the flyweight limit, but he successfully made it and the fight was on. However, the fight ended in just 32 seconds after Cejudo connected with a shot and put Dillashaw down.

Dillashaw protested the stoppage and wanted to run things back. The UFC seemed interested in the rematch as well. Then out of no where, Dillashaw announced that he was relinquishing his bantamweight title due to a positive drug test.

Long road back to UFC glory

Later, it came out that Dillashaw had popped for EPO. A performance enhancing drug that specifically aides in your energy levels. Dillashaw said he was struggling to maintain energy while trying to cut down to the flyweight limit. Dillashaw was suspended for two years.

Since then, Dillashaw has used the time away from the UFC to get his body right. He had a couple of shoulder surgeries to repair some damage that had been lingering for some time. Now, he feels like he is better than ever ahead of next UFC run.

There are going to be a lot of questions surrounding Dillashaw. There is also going to be a lot of pressure on his shoulders. If he can come back, test clean, and win the UFC title once again, it will be a big statement to the level of fighter that Dillashaw is.

However, if he can never return to his past form, people will always wonder if it was just the PEDs that aided Dillashaw. Granted, he never had failed a test, but popping for EPO after rumors had circulated for some time about Dillashaw isn’t a good look. Dillashaw is expected to return in early 2021 to the UFC.