UFC Bantamweight Division
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC Bantamweight Breakdown: Who Are The Real Contenders?

The UFC bantamweight division is getting older, but it still has some absolute beasts who could make a run at the title.

Champion: Aljamain Sterling

Sterling became the UFC bantamweight division champion after his controversial “win” over Petr Yan at UFC 259, but can he retain the title? He has all the talent in the world but he was absolutely manhandled by Yan until the illegal knee. Sterling may not be champion again until Yan retires.

#1 Bantamweight Contender: Petr Yan

Yan is a former champion who was as dominant as can be before his illegal knee lost him the title. His wrestling is elite – against Sterling, he was 7/7 on takedowns and dominated time on the ground. His striking accuracy is just above 50%, but his grappling accuracy is 67%, which is unheard of, especially for a bantamweight. Look out for Yan to regain the title and hold it for a while.

#2 Bantamweight Contender: Cory Sandhagen

Sandhagen is legit. He is is a well-rounded fighter with great striking and tremendous endurance, and you may remember his perfectly placed flying knee that sent Frankie Edgar into the shadow realm a few months ago. Sandhagen’s only shortcoming might be his lack of experience in drawn-out fights, as he has never gone to the fourth round in his UFC career.

#3 Bantamweight Contender: Rob Font

Font is an enigma. He passes the eye test but he does not often fight the top fighters, and he would have to put on a good showing in a fight against Sandhagen or Yan to be labeled a true contender for the title. While Font does have good knockout power, he is not a great wrestler, which puts him at an inherent disadvantage against Yan and some other top bantamweights.

#4 Bantamweight Contender: Cody Garbrandt

Garbrandt is must-see TV and he is a great fighter to boot. He had a walk off knockout at UFC 250, and many are expecting more of the same from him this Saturday against Font in what is surely a title eliminator. Garbrandt’s knockout power is insane and it should net him a shot at the title this year.

Everyone Else

The rest of the division is either old or I just have not seen enough of them yet. Jose Aldo has not been good since he got slept by Conor McGregor in 2016. Dominick Cruz is just flat-out old, and the rest of the division is composed of fighters still trying to make names for themselves.

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