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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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Events

*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results

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The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.

An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.

The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.

UFC Winnipeg Official Results:

MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
  • #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
    • Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
  • #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45  round 1

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT

  • #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
  • Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
  • Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
  • John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT

  • Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
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Fight Announcements

Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.

It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.

Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.

In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.

Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.

In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.

UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

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Fight Announcements

Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.

Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.

First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)

Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.

Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.

Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.

In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.

UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira

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