August 9, 2016

UFC Fight Night 92: Even Beyond Yair Rodriguez, the Depth of Today's Featherweight Division Is Impossible To Deny

By Raphael Garcia

The UFC Fight Night 92 card was all about the featherweight division. The event featured three bouts that showcased some of the best men in the division. But at the end of the night, the future of the division was both clearer and murkier at the same time. After victories by Cub Swanson, Dennis Bermudez, and Yair Rodriguez, the future of the division seems rife with contenders that can carve their respective paths to title shots. And as Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo sit at the top of the weight class, it will be an interesting next few months as the rest of the division’s fighters sort out what is next.

Even though Rodriguez picked up an important win over Alex Caceres in his main event debut, he was not the highest ranked 145-pound fighter who fought on the card. Both Swanson and Bermudez sit higher than him in the UFC’s “official” rankings. While the first inclination may be to book him against one of these men next, perhaps we should look for other names in the division that present compelling fights for “Pantera.”

Brian Ortega and Darren Elkins are two names that leap off of the page and into this conversation. Both men are highly-touted grapplers that excel in grounding and controlling their opponents. Rodriguez has shown that he can prevail against other strikers, but what would happen if he was facing a man intent on taking him to the mat for extended periods of time? Caceres was able to control Rodriguez in the third round, landing some violent ground and pound. Although this match may not be made in order to preserve Rodriguez as a contender, Rodriguez should face the stern test of a grappler at this point in his career.

That brings the conversation to Swanson and Bermudez. At one time they were on the short list to challenge for the featherweight crown, but that is no longer the case, as both have dropped bouts in recent memory. Instead of putting them in the position to derail an up and coming prospect, the UFC should slate them against each other in the near future. This would allow the division to continue moving forward without blocking any progress for the men the UFC would like to develop into “name” fighters, such as Rodriguez. This is where the business and entertainment aspects of the UFC overshadow the pure sporting goals of the promotion.

The featherweight division is stacked with fighters that experts and fans would drop everything to see. Names such as Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar, Charles Oliveira, and Ricardo Lamas await anyone that thinks he’s ready for a title shot. Rodriguez, Bermudez, and Swanson are three more names to pay attention to in what is becoming one of the deepest divisions in the sport. At UFC Fight Night 92, the featherweight division took center stage and didn’t disappoint in showing that the weight class has more than enough talented competitors to put on some of the best fights in the sport.

UFC Fight Night 92
Alex Caceres vs. Yair Rodriguez: Yair Rodriguez def. Alex Caceres via split decision (46-49, 48-47, 48-47).

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UFC Fight Night 92: Caceres vs. Rodriguez took place on August 6, 2016 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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