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State of the UFC Bantamweight Division

Vinny Craig

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Champion: TJ Dillishaw

With another dominant all-around performance against former champion Renan Barao, the champion TJ Dillishaw defends his belt for the second time. Without anyone moving up or down, the list of contenders for him to face has gone down significantly. Having fought for the third time in 14 months, it’s seems that a November, December or January return to the Octagon seems the right time.

Next In-Line

Dominick Cruz

The former WEC and UFC Bantamweight champion has been talking. He called the champ a ‘wannabe’ and that he doesn’t know what it’s like to fight a real champ. If Cruz can get healthy and make it to the Octagon, the time table for him and for Dillishaw is fairly similar. Cruz has fought just once in three and half years, but his return last September saw a different ‘Dominator’ than we were used to. This is the fight that makes sense, but is all too dependent on Cruz being, and staying, healthy.

Raphael Assuncao

If the former Featherweight contender can get healthy, this is a match up a lot of people want to see. With Assuncao on a seven fight win streak, including the last man to defeat the champion, he is title worthy. As with Cruz, it depends on the time table for Assuncao as he is recovering from two broken ankles. He is expected to make a date soon, but it’s highly doubtful it will be a title chance. His fate is entirely put on the hand (or should I say knees) of Dominick Cruz and if he can get healthy for a fight.

The Future!

Aljamain Sterling

The youngster from New York knows what it’s like to be a champion. He was the ROC and CFFC Bantamweight champion before joining the UFC. He has gone 3-0 inside the Octagon and has climbed up the rankings quickly. A big fight should be in order after his win over Takeya Mizugaki (Urijah Faber, Renan Barao and Michael McDonald are some I would like to see) to see where he really stands. If he can past that tough test in a convincing fashion, I could see him right there for a title shot.

Thomas Almeida

The young gun from Brazil has made waves with his style and electricity inside the cage. With 20 straight wins to start his career, including his three inside the confines of the UFC, he has risen faster than the man named before him in Sterling. Being a top 15 fighter, he should be looking for top 10 fights to solidify himself. Realistically, another win and then a number-one contender and/or a high profile fight is what he needs for a shot at the champ.

Urijah Faber

You can’t mention MMA with guys under 145 pounds and not mention this guy. He is always on the cusp of a title shot and just recently lost (at Featherweight) his first non-title fight of his career. Him and Dillishaw come from the same camp, but they both have said they can put aside a friendship for a payday. If the champ gets dethroned, especially by Cruz, the fight sells itself with the rivalry they have for a third fight.

Michael McDonald

It’s very unfortunate such a talent hasn’t had a chance to showcase it. He hasn’t fought since December 2013 when he lost to Faber. He has lost his immediate relevancy, but can gain it back with a couple wins. He’s still only 24 years old with a good chance to come back from a series of hand injuries stronger than ever.

Long Shot

Bryan Caraway

After some hard losses, Bryan Caraway may be back in the title talk for now. He wowed people with his new found striking prowess on Saturday and used it to beat Eddie Wineland. He’ll need to put together some marquee wins to really be in the thick of things, but has the talent and now the team to do those things.

Renan Barao

As long as Dillishaw is the champ, Barao may not see a title shot again. He has been dominated over 7+ rounds of action with the champ, never being able to figure him out. We may see a fight that’s been on a lot of peoples minds if Cruz can regain what was once his. Barao fits in this division and will always be near the top, but as of right now he will just be fighting top level guys to keep relevant. Don’t be surprised if he moves up a division if his friend and training Jose Aldo does the same.

The Breakdown

It’s Cruz’s shot when/if he gets healthy, with a Dillishaw- Assuncao match up also lurking. The entire title picture is contingent on who gets healthy in time and who can make it to the Octagon. The obvious next step would be Cruz or Assuncao, but a Sterling or Faber shot if those two can’t get healthy and the champ wants to stay busy wouldn’t surprise me either. Some guys could move up (John Dodson or Demetrius Johnson) and some could even move down (Max Holloway) to be in the shadows as well.

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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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Announcement

*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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