Matchmaking the top-15 of the UFC’s bantamweight division

Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw

At UFC 250, the bantamweight division was on full display with Cody Stamann, Sean O’Malley, Alajmain Sterling, and Cody Garbrandt all picking up wins. It was a massive night for the division, but the event left a lot of questions unanswered.

Currently, the UFC’s bantamweight title is vacant after Henry Cejudo shockingly retired after UFC 249. It is expected Petr Yan will fight Jose Aldo at UFC 251 for the vacant belt, but after that, there is a ton of options for fights. So, here is what I think should be next for the top-10 of the bantamweight division.

3. Petr Yan vs. 6. Jose Aldo for the belt

This fight is already done, although some don’t agree with Jose Aldo getting to fight for the belt after being 0-1 in the weight class. Yet, it is a phenomenal fight that should take place on the feet where the Russian is currently a sizeable favorite.

1. Marlon Moraes vs. 9. Cody Garbrandt

Although Moraes called out Dominick Cruz for his next fight, after Garbrandt picked up a massive win at UFC 250 he should be right there for a title shot. “No Love” is a big name where a win over Moraes gets him another crack at the title. For Moraes, if he were to beat Garbrandt, he too could earn a title shot.

2. Aljamain Sterling vs. Yan-Aldo winner for the belt

Aljamain Sterling
Image via @ufc on Instagram

This one makes too much sense not to happen. Aljamain Sterling submitted Cory Sandhagen in just 88 seconds at UFC 250. It was a massive win, where some thought that fight should’ve been for the vacant title anyway. But, Sterling should be next in line to fight the winner of Yan vs. Aldo later this year.

4. Cory Sandhagen vs. 8. Jimmie Rivera

Sandhagen suffered his first loss inside the Octagon and will look to rebound against Jimmie Rivera who is on a two-fight losing streak. For Rivera, a win would get him back in the mix at bantamweight while a loss would put him in a gatekeeper position. For Sandhagen, a win should get him right back to where he was before the loss to Sterling.

5. Raphael Assuncao vs. 12. Cody Stamann

Raphael Assuncao is now on a three-fight losing streak and will have to fight down in the rankings where Cody Stamann is the perfect opponent. Stamann dominated Brian Kelleher at UFC 250 to get back into the win column after a controversial draw against Song Yadong. For Stamann, a win finally puts him into the top-10 of the division, while for Assuncao, he needs to fight down in the rankings following another loss. But, a win over the streaking Stamann could put him right back to where he was.

7. Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar

This fight is booked for UFC 251 and should be a great scrap.

10. Rob Font vs. 14. Song Yadong

Rob Font has not fought since he beat Ricky Simon last December and since then has been dealing with an injury. Yet, for the 10th-ranked bantamweight, a fight against Yadong is a chance to beat a hyped-up prospect where after that, he should get the chance to fight ahead of him. For Yadong, a win over Font puts him into the top-10 of the division where he can start his climb up the rankings.

11. Dominick Cruz vs. T.J. Dillashaw

T.J. Dillashaw, Dominick Cruz
Image Credit:

Dominick Cruz said he would fight again following his loss to Henry Cejudo at UFC 249. So, the perfect fight is the rematch against T.J. Dillashaw when the former champ returns from a USADA suspension in January. It’s an intriguing fight where the winner would enter the top-10, and it’s a scrap that could headline a Fight Night card.

13. John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalshvili-Ray Borg winner

John Dodson snapped his two-fight losing streak with a massive knockout win over Nathaniel Wood at UFC Rio Rancho. But, the 35-year-old will most likely have to fight behind him once again where a scrap against the winner of this weekends Merab Dvalshvili vs. Ray Borg fight makes a ton of sense.

15. Marlon Vera vs. Sean O’Malley

Sean O’Malley told me on Monday night this is a fight he wants and it was supposed to happen at UFC 239. It certainly makes sense as O’Malley has a ton of hype behind him and it’s a chance for him to get a top-10 opponent if he beats Vera. But, for “Chito” a win over O’Malley is massive for his career where it’ll get him a top-ranked opponent.

What do you think of these matchups?

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