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State of the Women’s Bantamweight Division

Vinny Craig

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Despite the Welterweight showdown taking the main event Saturday night, UFC 196 yielded way to a new Women’s Bantamweight champion in Miesha Tate. The scenarios now get more peculiar, the fights get tougher to schedule and the entire MMA world couldn’t be more excited. The division once ruled by a dominant queen has changed hands twice in the last two fights. The rest of the division seems to be in a shakeup with the new champion. The state of the Bantamweight division starts now.

Champion

Miesha Tate

Her second try for UFC gold (according to the press conference, she likes gold now) found success for the 29-year-old Team Couture product. Despite losing her initial title shot at former champ Ronda Rousey, her chances were either completely diminished or heightened. With Rousey unable to appear for the rematch, Tate got the call she had been hoping for since her July win over Jessica Eye. Her fifth-round submission win was the fourth in championship history for her division. Her sites have been put on Rousey or Holly Holm, but a few others could step up on short notice.

Next-In-Line

Ronda Rousey

The former champion was supposed to fight for the title in July against Holm. With her healing injuries and acting schedule, Rousey would not be ready for UFC 200 and the title shot was given to Tate. Now, Rousey has a new (or old) song to sing with Tate, whom she’s beaten twice in title fights already. With the biggest event in UFC history around the corner, the UFC is hoping Rousey is ready. With Tate the opponent, we may see Rousey sooner rather than later.

The Present

Holly Holm

All champions have the right to be contenders after their loss. With Holm receiving her first loss in MMA competition, a shot at her old title is not far off. Holm was winning the fight (don’t believe me? Here you go) before being choked unconscious. Her dominant win over Rousey will forever be etched in our minds, and that helps her case for future title shots. A fight with another lady on this list is my pick for her next fight.

Amanda Nunes

The Brazilian turned American Top Team is showing why she deserves to be talked about for a title shot. Her 5-1 UFC record is impressive enough, but the only loss on her resume is a TKO to Cat Zingano in which she was winning the first two rounds. ‘The Lioness’ has some improvements to make in her game with her loss to Zingano and her win over Schevchenko showing her lack of cardio. A fight with Holm for the next shot after Rousey seems like the perfect fit for me in this pretty thin division.

Julianna Peña

The Ultimate Fighter 18 winner has been impressive in the cage, but not so much outside the cage. Her legal trouble as of late has kept the highly ranked Peña out of the Octagon and off of social media. Her last win over Jessica Eye was impressive with a decision win, her third in a row and her first decision in the UFC. A former teammate of the champ, we shouldn’t expect her to turn down a title fight if asked.

Cat Zingano

It was a tough stretch for Zingano who had ACL surgery and lost her husband all within a years span. To come back and win the Nunes fight and earn her title shot is amazing in herself. After her 14-second loss to Rousey, Zingano wanted to hone her skills and hasn’t fought in over a year, with no fight scheduled. She is still one of the top fighters at 135 and can make waves when she returns. A big win over a Peña, Holm, etc. could put her right at the top of the hill.

The Future

Jessica Eye

The always exciting Eye has had big fight after big fight but has yet to get the big win. Despite losing three of her last four, the losses have come to Alexis Davis, Miesha Tate and Julianna Peña. The Cleveland native has just one win in five UFC fights, but a win streak over opponents of the caliber she’s been fighting could show us a new contender. At 29, Eye has yet to reach her potential on the biggest stage and I expect to see her in exciting and big fights for awhile.

Valentina Shevchenko

The former kickboxing champion has multiple wins over Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Her MMA career has shown success with a 12-2 record. Her UFC debut came with an impressive win over former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman in which she bested the Canadian in all forms of the game. Her impressive debut gave way to a big fight with Amanda Nunes. The Kyrgzian kickboxer held her own, but could not beat the grappling prowess of Nunes.

Long Shot

Bethe Correia

The former title challenger has yet to come back to the Octagon after her 36 second KO loss to Rousey. She has been the butt end of a lot of jokes after that loss, but ultimately her 3-1 UFC record should speak for herself. Her title chances are now very small with all the contenders that have jumped ahead of her. She would need some timely and quality wins to make it back to the big stage.

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Conor McGregor

Who will Conor McGregor fight next in the UFC?

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Conor McGregor has announced via Instagram that he intends to return to fighting and he even revealed that he had offered to replace the injured Max Holloway in the main event of UFC 222.

He did say however that the UFC rejected the opportunity to have him headline against Frankie Edgar as he was told “there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need”.

With his return seemingly imminent and an already proposed fight with Frankie Edgar falling through here’s a look at the men who could be standing across the cage from the “Notorious One” upon his return to the octagon.

Frankie Edgar

Let’s start with the man McGregor claims he was ready to fight next month, Frankie Edgar.

It’s a fight that has been rumoured and talked about for years now, but has always failed to become a reality and right now I believe each mans future lies elsewhere.

Although I believe Edgar would choose a fight with McGregor over a title fight with Holloway, his next bout should finally be for the real featherweight title, providing he beats Ortega at UFC 222. McGregor on the other hand, is unlikely to want the Edgar fight now given the much more lucrative options at his disposal.

If you’re a fan still clinging to hope that you will one day see this match up, I hate to break it to you but the only place you’ll be seeing this match up anytime soon is on UFC 3.

Likelihood: 2/10

The winner of Ferguson vs Khabib

If UFC 223 goes as planned then we will see a new UFC Lightweight champion. It means Conor McGregor will be without a belt for the first time since December 2015 and it would be no surprise to see him want his belt back instantly.

As a competitor the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer. As a businessman the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer.

It is the fight that makes sense, but as we know, sense doesn’t always prevail in the UFC. But, the winner of this bout being the next to face McGregor, is a real possibility.

Likelihood: 9/10

Max Holloway

Conor McGregor is no longer the man at featherweight, Max Holloway is.

Does that hurt McGregor’s ego? Maybe. There has been a lot more activity on McGregor’s social media channels about his fight with Holloway. Most notably the “I miss those sunglasses” post. Which certainly has a hint of jealousy to it. Perhaps McGrgeor wants to remind fans of what he can do at featherweight?

Although I think McGregor’s days at featherweight are pretty much over, I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that we see this fight at lightweight. But I don’t believe this fight is next for either man.

Likelihood: 4/10

Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor have both announced their comebacks in quick succession of each other. Could it mean they’re coming back for a fight this summer? Who knows.

But one things for sure, the trilogy fight will happen. It has the potential to be even bigger than the first two fights and will surely bring in a boat load of cash. Enough to motivate the two rivals to meet in the octagon again.

The fight seems inevitable and it has every chance of being the next fight for McGregor.

Likelihood: 9/10

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather UFC

Mayweather Jr. in the octagon has been teased since before his boxing match with Conor McGregor and the ongoing speculation seems never ending.

But it’s wishful thinking to believe that Mayweather Jr. will repay the favour to McGrgeor by competing in his sport.

This sport has taught us to never say never and many of us would have never envisioned McGregor competing in boxing, but here we are. But this is just a whole new level of unlikely.

Likelihood: 0/10

 

 

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Conor McGregor

Dana White gives an update on the lightweight title picture

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When it comes to the lightweight division there is always a lot of talk with very little clarification. But now it seems Dana White has had enough of waiting for champion Conor McGregor and plans to move on in his absence.

“The Notorious” Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in November 2016 at UFC 205 where he became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously, however, he has not competed in MMA since.

Speaking on Sunday night’s after UFC Fight Night St. Louis UFC President Dana White said “Conor has said he is thinking about coming back in September if he comes back in September that’s almost two years, that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he’s done for this company, everybody knows that I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.”

White also spoke about the two men that would fight for the lightweight belt saying “You do Khabib versus Tony, we’re working on that fight now and if and when Conor comes back he would get the first crack at the title.”

Then when presenter Karyn Bryant pushed for clarification and asked: “So you’re saying that Conor could possibly be stripped of his title?” Dana responded without hesitation “absolutely”.

The news will excite UFC fans across the globe who have been clamoring for the Ferguson vs Khabib matchup which they have been denied on three separate occasions. No date was confirmed for the potential matchup but rumors have been circulating that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.

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Conor McGregor reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win at UFC 219

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On Saturday night the world watched as Khabib Nurmagomedov dismantled the striking expert Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The reactions were filled with praise for the undefeated Russian fighter. Media members and fans alike were calling Nurmagomedov one of the best lightweights in the world, but there is one man the world was waiting to hear from, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor was silent following the fight between Nurmagomedov and Barboza, that is until Monday morning when he took to Twitter to state his opinion about the Number one contender.

“Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me,” McGregor wrote on Twitter.  “Otherwise, I don’t give a bollox.  My whiskey is out this year and that’s Diddy bread.” The whiskey that McGregor is referring to is his very own grand that he announced would be coming out following his loss to Floyd Mayweather this past August.

Rumors about McGregor’s return have ranged from him retiring from fighting to live a life of wealth with his family, to expect his return to the UFC this summer. No one really knows if McGregor will ever defend his UFC lightweight belt, but if he is to do so UFC President Dana White has said that it will be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Ferguson was also seeking a fight with Nurmagomedov prior to winning the interim belt against Kevin Lee. It is entirely possible that we will see these two battle for the interim title in the octagon before we see the return of Conor McGregor. Of course, these days there are no guarantees in regards to title contention, McGregor and his camp have publically stated that they would like to face Nurmagomedov in his home country of Russia. 

 

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