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UFC Vegas 44 preview: ‘Weird’ logjam at 135 pounds keeps Font, Aldo at bay (for now)

(Boston, MA 01/18/18) UFC bantamweight mixed martial artist Rob Font from Leominster, Massachusetts talks with the Herald at Fenway Park. Thursday, January 18, 2018. Staff photo by John Wilcox. Photo by John Wilcox/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

It’s a battle of Top 5 bantamweights as the red-hot Rob Font collides with former featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo atop the UFC Vegas 44 MMA event this Sat. night (Dec. 4) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, and under normal circumstances, a victory would be enough to warrant a 135-pound title shot.

But the bantamweight division is “fucked up,” according to this former champion.

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’BIGI BOY’ BRAWL! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to its APEX venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., March 2, 2024, with a Heavyweight showdown between knockout artist and former kickboxing standout, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, welcoming undefeated Contender Series signee, Shamil Gaziev (11-0), to the Octagon proper. In UFC Vegas 87’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, undefeated Vitor Petrino (10-0) looks to keep his perfect record intact at the expense of the once highly-touted Tyson Pedro in a Light Heavyweight scrap.

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A victory for Font (19-4) would give him five straight wins — two of them coming over former UFC champions. Unfortunately for the Bostonian, current champion Aljamain Sterling and interim titleholder Petr Yan have yet to unify the 135-pound titles while ex-champion TJ Dillashaw waits patiently in the wings.

“There’s some options,” Font told MMA Junkie during the UFC Vegas 44 media day. “The champ’s still out, and I guess there’s rumors of that fight happening again. I think best case scenario – and I’m not wishing anything on him – if Aljamain can’t or he’s not healthy enough to fight, I think, you know, like we strip him of the belt. Me and Yan end up getting in a fight for the belt. Obviously, if they fight, hopefully a big finish or a win does enough for me to get the title shot after they fight, but, you know, there’a still TJ Dillashaw out there.”

Font, 34, is currently ranked No. 4 at 135 pounds, one spot below Cory Sandhagen and one spot above Aldo. A victory over “Junior” could warrant a fight against the loser of Yan vs. Sterling since Sandhagen is coming off back-to-back losses.

“It’s kind of like, all right, worst case, you know, I get TJ to get to the shot – and then there’s still Cory Sandhagem,” Font continued. “There’s so many options. I’m not even thinking title right now. I’ve got this killer in front of me, and I’ve got two more killers in front of me. … I just want to get in there, get finished with this fight, and then we’ll talk from there.

As for Aldo, 35, he would likely find himself in a similar position. Beating Font would mark his third straight win but he’s also just over a year removed from a technical knockout loss to Yan, so “Junior” has some work to do of his own. But hey, if Glover Teixeira can get it done at age 42, then Aldo (30-7) still has plenty of time.

“The division is a little bit weird, right, so I think that if I win this fight, I’m not going to the title right away,” Aldo told MMA Junkie. “I think that I have one more stop before going to the title. If you look at Glover Teixeira, I’m still a kid. I want to continue doing this, and I’m not going to stop until I get this title, and I’m going to continue fighting in this high level.”

The journey continues this weekend in “Sin City.”

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