MMA Ratings Podcast

April 17, 2020

Fight Fixin' - Post-Coronavirus Edition: UFC Men's Bantamweight Division

By Adam Martin

The UFC, like every other sports entity in the world, is currently in limbo while humankind waits out the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus has destroyed the global economy and has also led to the cancellation of at least three and possibly more UFC cards. With MMA currently in a hiatus, we thought it would be a good time to look through each division and match-make future bouts for when the sport returns. In this edition of Fight Fixin', we take a look at the UFC men's bantamweight division. Note: Some fighters currently have fights booked, but we will ignore those matchups for this series.

Henry Cejudo vs. Petr Yan for UFC Men's Bantamweight Championship

UFC Men's Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo was set to fight Jose Aldo at UFC 250 before the card was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the UFC schedule resumes hopefully the UFC matchmakers do the right thing and give the title shot to Petr Yan instead, because he's the true #1 contender right now and most deserving of a title shot. Yan is unbeaten in the UFC with a 6-0 record and is coming off of a huge knockout win over Urijah Faber. It was shocking when the UFC decided to give Aldo the title shot over Yan, but with the schedule essentially getting a reset, hopefully Yan gets the title shot instead. He's the fighter in the division who would be the toughest challenge for Cejudo, and these two should square off in the main event of a PPV later this year for the title.

Dominick Cruz vs. Jose Aldo

Two fighters who were most recently booked to fight Cejudo for the bantamweight title are Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo. The Brazilian Aldo was set to fight Cejudo in the main event of UFC 250 before the card was postponed, while Cruz was the man who was going to step in if UFC President Dana White was able to pull it off. Quite frankly, neither of these men deserve a title shot. Aldo is coming off of a loss to Marlon Moraes at UFC 245, while Cruz hasn't fought since a loss to Cody Garbrandt back at UFC 207 in 2016. The best and fairest thing to do, then, would be to match these two legends of the sport up to see who truly deserves to fight for the belt in 2020, and who doesn't.

Frankie Edgar vs. Aljamain Sterling

One fight that has been rumored for a little while now is a bantamweight bout between the legend Frankie Edgar and top contender Aljamain Sterling. The UFC was not able to book this fight due to Sterling having surgery on his wrist, but he'll be ready to return to the Octagon soon, and Edgar still makes sense as his opponent. Edgar's resume gives him the right to fight a top contender in his debut at 135 lbs, and Sterling is just that guy. It's true that Sterling should probably get a title shot next, but there are a few other fighters ahead of him in line right now. That's why Sterling should fight Edgar next, and the better man will remain in title contention in a stacked weight class.

Marlon Moraes vs. Cory Sandhagen

Another fight that makes sense based on the rankings would pair top-five fighters Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen. Moraes is coming off of a nice win over Aldo while Sandhagen is unbeaten in the UFC with a perfect 5-0 record and a solid win over Raphael Assuncao in his last fight. Both men are excellent fighters but not really in the title picture at the moment given how many other contenders there are at 135. Might as well match them up and let the best man win.

Sean O'Malley vs. John Dodson

The top prospect right now at 135 lbs is Sean O'Malley. After two years away from the Octagon due to issues with USADA, he starched Jose Quinonez with a head kick knockout and it's time he proves what he can do with a step up in competition. John Dodson is just that guy. Dodson has essentially slipped into the role of gatekeeper in the crowded UFC men's bantamweight division, but as he showed with his upset knockout win over Nathaniel Wood his last time out, he's dangerous enough to give a young up-and-comer a real challenge. If O'Malley can beat Dodson we'll know he's the real deal, and if he can't then we know he needs more work. This is the perfect main event for the preliminary card of a PPV.

What do you think of the above matchups in the UFC men's bantamweight division? Comment under this article, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMAdamMartin.


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