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State of the UFC Bantamweight Division

Vinny Craig

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A look at the Bantamweight division with Dominick Cruz as the champion is almost like throwing wood into a slow burning fire. Cruz won his 13th consecutive fight at UFC 199 and defended his title for the second time in his second stint. Young stars are emerging in the division and are hungry to win the belt from one of the P4P best in the world. With young and veteran fighters alike, it’s quickly becoming one of the most exciting divisions in the UFC.

The Champion

Dominick Cruz

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Cruz continues to run the Bantamweight division with an iron fist with another title defense at UFC 199. The trilogy fight with fan favorite Urijah Faber went the way of Cruz as he used the mastery of his movement and all-around skill level. After allowing ‘The California Kid’ to land just 21% of his Significant Strikes and 1 of his 6 takedown attempts. The longtime kingpin atop the 135-pound division has a collection of young talent awaiting their turn at a title shot.

Next In Line

Winner of TJ Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao

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The ‘biggest event in UFC history’ is less than a month away and includes a likely Bantamweight title eliminator when former champion TJ Dillashaw rematches Raphael Assuncao at UFC 200. The winner likely gets the next title shot, especially with a good showing. The fight being one month after the last title fight puts the time right in tune for a late summer, early fall return.

Dillashaw won the title at UFC 173 and was able to defend it twice before running into Cruz at Fight Night 81. With spectacular performances against Renan Barao (twice) and Joe Soto, along with a close fight against Cruz, has kept Dillashaw in the thick of things. A win here would likely set up a rematch fight or another big fight with either a Bryan Caraway or Cody Garbrandt.

Assuncao is a winner of seven straight, including a win over Dillashaw and Caraway. A two-year layoff has put a halt on the title train for Assuncao, but a return bout with Dillashaw puts him back on the rails. A loss here would likely kill the hopes for a title shot until another run like this one. A dominant win or finish is the only way ensure a title shot, but a win none-the-less will keep him going forward in this race.

The Present

Bryan Caraway

The star power is all on girlfriend Miesha Tate at the moment, but Bryan Caraway is doing alright for himself. After a decision win over Aljamain Sterling at Fight Night 88, Caraway is looking for the stars with a title shot. His wins over Eddie Wineland and Sterling in his last two sets up the Xtreme Couture product for a big fight with title implications. A fight with anyone above him in the rankings such as a Urijah Faber fight or a fight with Cody Garnbrandt at UFC 203 (per the request of Garbrandt) will suffice in moving him forward.

Cody Garbrandt

A dominating win over Thomas Almeida in a headlining bout in May put the young prospect on the map. The biggest win of his career couldn’t have come at a better time with contenders dropping left and right, Garbrandt has stood strong and kept up. A fight with Urijah Faber is out of the question as they are close teammates, but fights with Caraway, John Dodson, or Aljamain Sterling could catapult the young phenom into the starlight.

The Future

Aljamain Sterling

The ‘Funkmaster’ resigned with the UFC to become a champion back in January. His loss to Caraway sent him back a few steps as he’ll need big wins to show he can handle the fighters at the top. With top 15 wins in Takeya Mizugaki and Johnny Eduardo, Sterling should be looking up in the rankings still. Fights with Faber or Garbrandt would be the biggest tests while the safe fights would be a Jimmie Rivera fight. A good match up for both guys would be the one people have been looking forward to with Sterling against Thomas Almeida with both coming off of losses.

Thomas Almeida

The 24-year-old talented fighter needed the win over Garbrandt that would have likely put him with one fight to a title shot. The loss doesn’t set him back much but puts the time back depending on how often he fights. With one marquee win over Brad Pickett, Almeida will have to prove he can hang with the big boys. Above him in the rankings could be fights with Faber or Dodson with guys like Johhny Eduardo and Eddie Wineland below him. The fight to make is Aljamain Sterling as both are coming off of losses, but still have a huge upside for the future.

Michael McDonald

Can you believe he is just 25 years old still? McDonald has already fought for an interim title with 8 UFC fights under his belt. After returning to action in January, ‘Mayday’ seems to be back in the fight business for good after losing his passion for the sport, along with hand injuries to boot. His fight with John Lineker in July will say a lot about both guys future in the division with Cruz as champion. A win over Lineker and a top 5 victory puts McDonald back in the running for a second shot at UFC gold.

Jimmie Rivera

One of the brightest budding stars in the division is Jimmie Rivera. With just one career loss, he holds three straight UFC wins over Marcus Brimage, Pedro Munhoz, and Iuri Alcantara. At 14 in the division rankings, the only people he wants to be looking at is in front of him. Best fights to go forward would be like Thomas Almeida or Aljamain Sterling despite both coming off of losses.

John Lineker

It might be a blessing in disguise that Lineker could not make 125 for so long. In his new home of Bantamweight, Lineker has had better cardio and seems to be healthier come fight day. His two-minute war with Francisco Rivera and destruction of Rob Font are just glimpses of what this guy can likely do at 135. His fight with Michael McDonald means a lot to his title future, possibly leaving him just a few fights away from a title shot.

John Dodson

The oldest one in this group is more of a ‘nowhere else to put him’ kind of place. His highly successful 125 pound run was halted with two losses to the champion, prompting a move up in weight. His speed and accuracy at this weight class will cause issues for anyone, but especially for the bigger Bantamweights. His win over Manny Gamburyan is just the start and should put the rest of the division on notice. Rankings almost don’t apply as of right now, leaving any opponent open for John Dodson

Worth Mentioning

Urijah Faber

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As with the Middleweight division, a guy who has lost his last seven chances at winning a title should be nowhere near a title picture. With his loss to Cruz and his fight career on the back half, Faber will settle into a different role. He is still a talented fighter, and could be used to see if guys can take that next step in their career towards being a champion. Any guy in the top 15 without an opponent could be fair game for him, and a win over Urijah Faber holds some weight to it.

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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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