Current Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Studio 54)
With Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the middle of one of its longest stretches of down time in months, (and with the summer season jam-packed with events), I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to take an in-depth look at all the divisions to clearly identify who is in the title picture, who isn't, who is building themselves into a contender and whose jobs are on the line.
The UFC is essentially an endlessly on-going tournament, with two brackets: One for match winners and one for match losers. Just about the only time that Joe Silva and Dana White match up a guy coming off a win with a guy coming off a loss is if the guy coming off a loss was fighting for a title. Otherwise, it's almost always winner vs winner and loser vs loser.
It's a pretty sensible way of doing things, ensuring that there will always be guys with a few wins in a row and others with a couple of losses in a row, opening up the chance for new blood to enter into the company.
So anytime you are looking at a division and trying to see what the future will hold, it's mandatory to know who are the fighter's on win streaks and who are the fighters on losing streaks. As such, I've been organizing each division by wins and losses for a few months now and throughout today I'll be posting up my take on each division based on this data. I'm not going to be doing an in-depth feature on the flyweight division, as there has only been two fights in the division thus far.
Therefore, we'll start with the Bantamweight division (135 pounds):
(**Wins/Losses include World Extreme Cagefighting fights**)
Nine Wins: Dominick Cruz
Five Wins: Renan Barao
Four Wins: Michael McDonald
Three Wins: Ivan Menjivar
Two Wins: Yves Jabouin, Chris Cariaso, Mike Easton, Edwin Figueroa
One Win: Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, Raphael Assuncao, Vaughan Lee, Nick Denis, Ken Stone, Reuben Duran, Johnny Bedford, Roland Delorme, Jeff Hougland, T.J. Dillashaw
Rookies: Mitch Gagnon, Azamat Gashimov
One Loss: Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, Brad Pickett, Takeya Mizugaki, Alex Caceres, John Albert, Jared Papazian, Alex Soto, Dustin Pague, Josh Ferguson, Byron Bloodworth, Johnny Eduardo, Jeff Curran
Two Losses: Eddie Wineland, Damacio Page, Joseph Sandoval, Walel Watson
Three Losses: Kid Yamamoto
All right, so of course the champion Cruz is at the head of the class, and Faber is booked to face him in a rubber match in the summer. Barao and McDonald would seem to be on the inside track for the shot after that. It's interesting to note that four of the divisions best guys (Faber, Torres, Bowles and Jorgensen) are sitting with either a single win or a single loss, which has opened the division up for the likes of Barao and McDonald.
- Brad Pickett vs Damacio Page, UFC on FUEL TV 2
- Miguel Torres vs Michael McDonald, UFC 145
- Nick Denis vs Johnny Bedford, UFC on FOX 3
- Yves Jabouin vs Jeff Hougland, UFC on FUEL TV 3
- Jeff Curran vs Johnny Eduardo, UFC on FUEL TV 3
- Alex Soto vs Azamat Gashimov, UFC on FUEL TV 3
- Dustin Pague vs Jared Papazian, UFC on FX 3
- Renan Barao vs Ivan Menjivar, UFC 148
There is quite a bit of mixed martial arts (MMA) action coming up, with all of the top guys set to do battle in the spring and early summer. Torres/McDonald and Barao/Menjivar are the fights with the biggest title implications. I think Barao is likely to get the shot if he wins, and the winner of Torres/McDonald will likely have to get just one more win to earn themselves a title fight. Yves Jabouin has two wins in a row, so a win over Hougland could insert himself into the battle for contendership.
Edwin Figueroa, Vaughan Lee, Ken Stone, Reuben Duran, T.J. Dillashaw, Roland Delorme
Out of that group of seven, Figueroa is the lone fighter with multiple wins in a row, making it pretty likely we'll see him get paired up with someone solid in the near future. Of course that isn't a sure thing, as someone like Dillashaw, with a bit of hype to him, could be a better opponent. Either way, it's likely we'll see two or three fights made out of this list.
Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, Takeya Mizugaki, Eddie Wineland, John Albert, Josh Ferguson, Byron Bloodworth, Joseph Sandoval, Walel Watson, Kid Yamamoto
Ten fighters in the division are on some sort of losing streak, with Bowles, Jorgensen, Mizugaki and Wineland leading the way in terms of name value. I'm pretty sure Bowles and Jorgensen are going to be paired up because they are both highly ranked and have yet to face each other. Another possible fight is Wineland vs Mizugaki, for much the same reasons. The rest of the group are pretty much on the fringe and I expect some "loser goes home" matches to be made in the near future, with Watson, Sandoval and Yamamoto all desperately in need of a victory (if they haven't already been marked for the chopping block).
That wraps up the bantamweight division. What do you guys think? Is Renan Barao all but guaranteed to have the next title shot? What about the fast rising Michael McDonald? If he gets a quick and dominant victory over Torres, should he be the one to get the next crack at Cruz or Faber?
Sound off maniacs!