In this next part of my series where I look into each weight class we will look into the UFC bantamweights where some have been calling these past few months as the year of the bantamweights. Is this true? I would say yes. Lets take a look at how this division is shaping up and how this truly is the year of the bantamweights.
When looking at the top of this division, you have your champion Dominick Cruz who finally has a title defense under his belt, after previously disposing of TJ Dillishaw and retaining what he had never lost. After a successful defense against Urijah Faber at UFC 199 and now waiting for an opponent in the future, there are more than enough men in this division that are willing and able to take the title fight against Cruz.
When looking at the rest of this division, there are many big fights coming up within the rankings that are sure to determine a challenger to Cruz’s belt. One that is sure to have Dana White and company are sure to have their eye on is the highly anticipated rematch of TJ Dillishaw vs. Raphael Assuncao. Assuncao won the first fight in a controversial split decision and this rematch is set for July 9th at UFC 200 in what should be a very intriguing rematch. If Dillishaw wins, you could very well see a Cruz vs. Dillishaw rematch that some fans were calling for when Dillishaw lost the belt.
The next match-up that could determine the place of those contending for the belt is the UFC fight night in South Dakota main event that has Michael McDonald vs. John Lineker. McDonald stands at number five in the rankings while Lineker is number eight. This has the makings of a very entertaining fight as well as one that could be finished very quickly. Whoever comes out on top can be able to vie for a potential title fight if the situation is right for them.
The whole bantamweight class is still loaded with talent that is show through the rankings with the likes of fighters such as Aljamain Sterling, Bryan Caraway, Thomas Almeida, Cody Garbrandt, Takeya Mizugaki, Frankie Saenz, Johnny Eduardo, Jimmie Rivera and Eddie Wineland. All of these men still have what it takes to reach the top and become a champion one day. The future of this division is very well set as guys like Garbrandt and Almeida are future stars in the making. Garbrandt gives Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California a man who is very well on his way to a shot if he can get past Mizugaki at UFC 202 in August and could very well see a title shot next year.
Almeida might be coming off of a loss to Garbrandt back in late May this year but he is still one of the brightest young stars the UFC has to offer as his record of twenty wins and only one loss is still something to behold. At the young age of twenty four years, Almeida has all the tools to become a champion, he can easily overcome the adversity of slipping away in the rankings to get back in the win column soon as he has finished sixteen of his professional fights by knockout or TKO and his amazing finishing power.
The 135-pound class is something the UFC has been very high on in the past few years. With the return of its first Champion Dominick Cruz healthy and with the belt in hand, he looks to keep up where he left off before of all the injuries that affected his career and he has a lot of competition behind him. This easily is the year of the bantamweight and we are excited to see where this division heads to in the near future.