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8/11/16: Five Fights to Make in UFC’s Bantamweight Division
With several new challengers emerging in the UFC’s bantamweight division, today we take a look at five of the best fights to be made in the current landscape.
5. Aljamain Sterling vs. Michael McDonald: After suffering his first career loss, Sterling needs to make a statement in his next fight in order to reestablish himself as the prospect to beat. McDonald just suffered a devastating loss to John Lineker, and needs to get back on track himself. Put them together in New York and you’ve got one hell of an undercard matchup. Both are salvageable talents, with Sterling having a much higher ceiling, so let’s see who can get back on track here this fall.
4. John Dodson vs. Cody Garbrandt: Garbrandt’s got Takeya Mizugaki next, but an even better fight for the young prospect would be TUF winner and former Flyweight Title challenger John Dodson. Garbrandt opened eyes with his quick destruction of Thomas Almeida, and beating some more established veterans would help flesh out his bid for an eventual title fight. Dodson is trying to kickstart a title run of his own in a second weight class, and handing the impressive undefeated Garbrandt his first loss would be a huge statement that he’s still among the names to beat in the division.
3. Marlon Moraes vs. Urijah Faber: The WSOF Bantamweight Champion is a free agent. It’s time for the UFC to sign him, put him on a massive stage against one of the most known names in the field, and let him do his thing. Moraes might be one of the best bantamweights in the world, but we’ll never know for sure until he’s fighting the rest of the best in the field himself. He can’t go any further in WSOF, and though he can’t be blamed for taking the money if it’s better than the UFC would offer, he’s also not going to take any further steps up in ranking and notoriety. If he gets to the UFC in a high profile fight, he can establish himself immediately as a contender.
2. John Lineker vs. Bryan Caraway: Lineker’s on an excellent run since moving up from flyweight, and he’s one of the most dangerous fighters competing in this weight class. Caraway may be elite, or he may be the gatekeeper to that level in this division, but he’s the type of test that could bring Lineker a title shot should he pass. Caraway’s ability to smother with top control on the ground might be stifled by the buzz-saw nature of Lineker’s striking game and his very good jiu jitsu attack as well. Stylistically it’s a huge test for both of them, and puts the winner in a great place in the division.
1. Dominick Cruz vs. T.J. Dillashaw II: This is the only fight to make for the title, even though Cruz has been talking a fight at 145 lbs. Cruz continues to denigrate Dillashaw as a fighter but he was lucky to emerge with the title in January in that first fight. There was and still is a strong argument for Dillashaw having won that fight, and with both picking up wins since then it’s time to run it back again. Dillashaw deserves that chance, and Cruz can then prove he’s better than Dillashaw and leave no questions this time around. Make the fight, then move on from there.
[Photo (c) Bob DeChiara via USA Today Sports]
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