Bantamweight Players

In 2013, taking a look over the bantamweight landscape makes me come to one conclusion – we need more potential title challengers. I don’t think UFC has done a good job of building up contenders or new faces in this division. As I’ve done in previous installments of the “Players” series, here is the rundown of the bantamweight division:

–The 135 lbs. champion Dominick Cruz just recently had another surgery (ACL) this past December. By the time he comes back, it will be two years since his last fight. When we last saw Cruz, he was out-muscling Mighty Mouse (even German suplexing him) on a Versus card back on October 2011. He was scheduled to fight Urijah Faber for a third time in 2012, but suffered an injury that has put him out of action since then.

–The 22-year-old Michael McDonald is set to challenge Brazil’s Renan Barão for the UFC interim bantamweight title. Barão has amassed an impressive 29-1-1 record in his mixed martial arts career. He befuddled Urijah Faber back in July 2012 to win the interim bantamweight crown in a one sided affair. McDonald’s last fight was back in April 2012, as he easily KO’d the former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Angel Torres. Whoever wins this fight, will be the number one active bantamweight in the world.

–How neat is it that Eddie Wineland is this close to getting a potential title shot? The slick boxer, with wicked rib roasters and sharp crosses has impressed me of late. In his last two fights, he viciously knocked out Scott Jorgensen (June 2012) and brutalized Brad Pickett (December 2012) via superior boxing. It’s going to be a while before Jorgensen and Pickett get close to another potential title shot. Eddie Wineland lost his WEC bantamweight championship way back on March 2007. It was an underrated and excellent fight with Chase Beebe on the second WEC show under Zuffa ownership. With the lack of title challengers, I would have Eddie Wineland face the winner of Saturday nights interim title fight.

–Tyson Nam knocked Eduardo Dantas out badly at a Shooto Brazil event on August 2012. It was an embarrassing moment for Bellator, as their company champion was destroyed by a fighter they released. Contract mamadas ensued (Bellator tried to get him back), but luckily Nam was given his freedom to compete at WSOF 2 next month against Marlon Moraes. As for Dantas, he came back strongly against his team-mate and friend Marcos Galvao last night. He timed a perfect uppercut in the second stanza, and followed it up with a few more punches on the ground to put Galvao out.

–Urijah Faber and Ivan Menjivar are set to have a rematch on February 23rd. The first fight was at TKO 24 (January 2006), a fight that resulted in Faber having his hand raised via DQ victory (illegal kick to a downed opponent). In their last fights, Faber lost to the current interim champion and Menjivar easily tapped out Azamat Gashimov with a slick armbar.

–Raphael Assuncao is a perfectly solid fighter, that exposed the flaws in Mike Easton’s game on December 2012. His highest profile fight was a title eliminator with Urijah Faber way back on January 2010. He lost that fight via rear naked choke. No word on who this top ten bantamweight is fighting next.

Powered by