A UFC 207 BANTAMWEIGHT CO-MAIN?
INCREDIBLE news last week: the UFC will punctuate what has already been an epic year of action, with the return of that ‘Rowdy’ Women’s Bantamweight megastar, this December 30th, at UFC 207. Even though the promotion has taken a breather from the rest of this October, the fans can soon look forward to a stacked run of events in lead up to the new year, that will now see all of the available champions putting their respective titles on the line at some point*.
All except one though,
There’s still the next Bantamweight Title Fight to be announced.
On ‘UFC Tonight’, Dana White confirmed that Champion Dominick Cruz has “got some good news coming his way” and “It’s Possible” he’ll also be featuring on that same UFC 207 card. However, in trying to predict who will be The Dominator’s dance partner for the night, it perfectly illustrates the ongoing dilemma that UFC matchmakers have to deal with: choosing between an opponent who has ‘earned’ a shot under the rankings system that structures the organization as a sport, vs. choosing a challenger who holds the highest public interest/demand and therefore will potentially generate a higher profit for the business side of the promotion.
On the one Bantamweight hand, TJ Dillashaw is the ongoing frontrunner for the ‘sport over profit’ traditionalists. In a division absent of an injured Cruz: Dillashaw rose up through it and made it his own, schooling an undefeated in 9 years Renan Barão, to claim the championship belt for himself and he successfully defended it twice. Although, he started this year by losing the title to Cruz at FN81, it was highly competitive 5 round affair, that divided the fans as to which one of them actually deserved to be awarded the spilt decision victory on the night. He has then since defeated another Top 5 contender, Raphael Assunção, in an unspectacular but solid performance at UFC200. On paper there is little more that Dillashaw can do to secure the rematch, other than continue to risk his stock by accepting further fights to eliminate other potential contenders ranked behind him. He is the No.1 contender for a reason, but in knowing that rankings alone aren’t necessarily enough nowadays, he has equally done his best to win over the fans to his cause, with a series of media attacks and challenges directed at the current champion.
However, there’s another fighter who is more successfully steering their Bantamweight Division Hype Train at the moment, dominating social media discussions when it comes to the ‘creating publicity’ side of the fight game:
Simply off the scale on the Hype-o-Meter: overwhelming fan interest demands to see Cody Garbrandt given the next shot, specifically to see him fight Cruz, as much as the subsequent belt that would happen to be on the line as well. There is certainly ‘No Love’ loss between these two, as Garbrandt seeks to pick up the mantle from his “Alpha ‘Fail’ teammates” (Cruz’s words, not mine!) and seek to achieve what none of them have been able to do in the UFC… beat The Dominator. Their intense feud and ongoing war of words has certainly helped Garbrandt to muscle his way into the title mix, but this is in no way discounting that he also poses a ‘legit knock-out artist’ threat as well, and he has done some of his most impressive talking with his fists foremost, inside of the Octagon. As a result, this is, hands down, the matchup that will draw the most attention towards a card, satisfying the majority of fans worldwide, which ultimately means the bout getting a thumbs up from all of the profit-driven UFC heads as well.
And really, it’s a win/win situation for the fans, as both of these are potentially great title fights to make, regardless of personal preferences. Though in saying that, Dillashaw and Garbrandt aren’t the only names being thrown about in relation to Cruz at the moment.
A fresh, rankings-friendly matchup for the champion, could come in the form of John Linker, after his FN96 victory over Jon Dodson. However, ‘Hands of Stone’ once again dented his own chances of a title shot, by again failing to make weight for that fight and although he poses a similar threat as Garbrandt for Cruz, his lack of English severely handicaps him in ‘selling the fight’ to certain fans.
Or alternatively, there’s a ‘throw the rankings out of the window’/ ‘Red Panty Night for everyone’ potential ‘Super Fight’ option, vs. José Aldo, that is once again turning over the rumor mill. The Interim Featherweight Champion is currently pissing in the wind in wait of his McGregor rematch to unify the belts, and in making this fight the UFC could defuse his recent demands to be released from his contract with them.
So, there’s lots of things to think about here, whilst wearing your Silva/Shelby hats.
However, with an announcement as to who will get the next shot at Dominick Cruz, surely imminent, whichever opponent is eventually chosen, they will inevitably tick some of the boxes more so than others.
But let’s not forget that those other matchups will still be waiting out there, somewhere down the line, for whoever happens to be holding that Bantamweight belt come 2017.
*2016 UFC Title Fights to come:
UFC 205 November 12th
Lightweight: Eddie Alvarez vs Conor McGregor
Welterweight: Tyron Woodley vs Stephen Thompson
Women’s Strawweight: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz
TUF 24 Finale December 3rd
Flyweight: Demetrious Johnson vs ? (The winner of TUF24)
UFC 206 December 10th
Light Heavyweight: Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson 2
UFC 207 December 30th
Women’s Bantamweight: Amanda Nunes vs Ronda Rousey
???????? Bantamweight: Dominick Cruz vs ?????????????
UNAVAILABLE for the rest of 2016:
Heavyweight: Stipe Miocic has asked to take a bit of time off.
Middleweight: Michael Bisping is in no place for a quick turn around defense, after his hard fought unanimous decision against Hendo at UFC 204.
Featherweight: Conor McGregor continues to hold up the division in chase of that ‘becoming the UFC’s 1st Duel Champion’ record. To be settled, either way, at UFC 205.
Interim Featherweight: José Aldo is waiting on a McGregor rematch/ stated he wants release from his UFC contract/ is up for a ‘Super Fight’ with Cruz?
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