The bantamweight (135 lbs) division may be the most exciting in the UFC right now. Even with one of the greatest bantamweights ever retiring, this leaves the division wide open. Now that the title is vacated, there are talks around who should be next in line for the title, and there are a plethora of answers to that.
Henry Cejudo easily handled one of the most dominant bantamweights ever in Dominick Cruz, and then retired. That left the championship vacant and also left the division to be in a frenzy. Since then, we have had some spectacular fights within the division, as well as some great returns from the likes of Cody Garbrandt and Sean O’Malley.
You have Jose Aldo and Peter Yan coming up for the title, which is exciting in its own right. Also, you have Aljamin Sterling, who is on a five fight win streak, calling out Peter Yan if he wins his fight against Aldo. Marlon Moraes may have something to say about that, however.
With all of the action we are getting from the top ranked guys, it is hard to overlook the rest of the division. Former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt is back! Even though he was knocked out in 3 straight fights before his last one, he is still a force to be reckoned with on any given night. With his star power, it may only take one more win for him to be in the championship talks again. Raphael Assuncao, (who Cody just slept to win the Knockout of the Night bonus at UFC 250) is now on a 3 fight skid, so his ranking has dropped.
You cannot forget about the former champion Dominick Cruz who has stated he has no intentions of retiring anytime soon. Cruz, being one of my favorite fighters, looks like he will have to work his way back up through this ultra talented division right now before receiving another title shot.
‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley is another exciting fighter who looked extremely impressive after a return due to suspension/injury. Although he is at the bottom of the division rankings, he is just as dangerous as all of the other fighters at 135. I think he deserves a big name opponent next to really test him, but he was adamant in his post fight interview to fight someone who is coming off of a win.
This eliminates some of the more interesting fights, but we can expect Dana to sweet talk him into getting into the octagon with someone by the likes of Cory Sandhagen or Pedro Munhoz. This would not only skyrocket his ranking, but it may put him against another top contender, which could start the talks for a championship bout.
With all of this action in the division, it’s hard not to go straight to the top to pick fights. With Cejudo leaving, it leaves the division as open as it’s ever been. Cejudo has rumored to want to come back for a shot at the featherweight (145 lbs) division title belt to cement himself as a three division world champion, which is something nobody has done thus far.
All of the competition I mentioned above is enough for him to come back and have big name guys to fight, but if nothing else can get him back to the division, possibly a call out after a big fight is what is needed to spark the fire that was once inside him.
Who will be the next king of the division? Who will reign over the division for the foreseeable future? Who will have the guts to call Cejudo out of retirement? These are questions we do not have the answer to right now, but we will be waiting patiently for them to be revealed.
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