MMA Ratings Podcast

June 3, 2020

UFC 250: The UFC Bantamweight Division Will Be Showcased This Weekend

By Adam Martin

When I look at UFC 250, I see a very good card that needs a better main event. All due respect to UFC Women's Featherweight Champion Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer, but their matchup is more of a co-main event fight. But quite frankly, that main event is not why I will be tuning in to this weekend's pay-per-view. I'm watching because of the three bantamweight bouts on the main card. And I assume it's the same for many others.

In the co-main event, former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt takes on perennial contender Raphael Assunção. Garbrandt, coming off of three straight knockout losses -- to TJ Dillashaw twice and then to Pedro Munhoz -- desperately needs a win here. Believe it or not, Garbrandt hasn't actually won a fight since December 2016, when he defeated Dominick Cruz for the title. Since then, it's been almost four years of struggle, and he needs to snap out of that funk this weekend.

Garbrandt had the potential to be a big star for the UFC, but when you keep getting knocked out, it's hard to stay relevant in a stacked division like men's 135. Fortunately for him, the UFC matched him up with a respectable fighter in Assunção, but one who lacks KO power. The Brazilian is one of the best in the division at winning on points, but knockouts are few and far between. If the UFC wanted a showcase fight for Garbrandt to get him back into the mix, this is the right one.

My one complaint about the Garbrandt vs. Assuncao fight is that it's placed in the co-main event slot, where the fight between Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen should be. Third on the main card, this is the most important bantamweight fight on the card in regards to the title picture. Both Sterling and Sandhagen are among the elite at 135 lbs in the UFC and the winner of this fight will arguably jump into the #1 contender's spot. If anything, this should have been a title fight.

The UFC bantamweight division got a shock last month when champion Henry Cejudo vacated his belt seemingly out of nowhere. When that happened, some fans and media suggested the UFC book Sterling vs. Sandhagen for the vacant title. That didn't happen, and instead, Petr Yan and Jose Aldo will fight for the vacant strap this summer. But we still get to see Sterling vs. Sandhagen this weekend, and this is an absolutely massive fight in regards to the future of the bantamweight division.

Sterling is currently ranked #2 by the UFC, while Sandhagen is #4, so this is a quality matchup between two of the best in the world. Sterling is currently riding a four-fight win streak, while Sandhagen has won all five of his fights since joining the UFC. Fans know how good these two are, and the winner of the fight would make for a respectable champion. While they aren't fighting for a belt, this should still be an incredible fight between two talented martial artists. I just wish it was five rounds.

Rounding out the bantamweight fights on the main card, top prospect Sean O'Malley returns against veteran Eddie Wineland. Both men are primarily stand-up fighters so this is the perfect fight to kick off the PPV with, as it's likely going to be really fun to watch. O'Malley is unbeaten in his MMA career and a perfect 3-0 in the UFC, while Wineland is coming off a win in his last fight. It's clear that this is a showcase fight for O'Malley, but Wineland should be tough enough to make it fun to watch.

Between Garbrandt vs. Assuncao, Sterling vs. Sandhagen, and O'Malley vs. Wineland, plus Cody Stamann taking on  Brian Kelleher fighting up a weight class on the prelims, the UFC men's bantamweight division is on display at UFC 250 this weekend. In a division that just saw the champion vacate the belt out of nowhere, it will be nice to get some clarity on bantamweight moving forward. After UFC 250, we should have a much clearer vision of what the title picture at 135 lbs looks like.

UFC 250
Raphael Assunção vs. Cody Garbrandt

UFC 250
Cory Sandhagen vs. Aljamain Sterling

UFC 250
Sean O'Malley vs. Eddie Wineland

UFC 250: Nunes vs. Spencer (formerly UFC 250: Cejudo vs. Aldo) was due to take place May 9, 2020 at Ginásio do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil. Due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus, the event was rescheduled for June 6, 2020.

Click HERE for more UFC 250 Pre-Fight Analysis

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