It’s tough being a 135-pound UFC fighter these days. For whatever reason, casual fans aren’t into watching “little guys” bang. Sadly, they’re missing out on some of the best action in MMA.
In the world of the UFC, you can go from zero to hero in the blink of an eye (or vice versa…just ask Ronda Rousey) and Cody Garbrandt knows exactly how that feels. Garbrandt is fresh off a decimation of the trash-talking Dominick Cruz. It’s safe to say that “No Love” let’s his fists do the talking for him, and he will be well deserving of ample love from the UFC after climbing to the top of the Bantamweight Division rankings.
What the division lacks in knockout power, it makes up for in speed. These guys look like they’re flying around the octagon when they’re going at it. Their conditioning and technique is off the charts - you will never see a slow-paced bantamweight bout. This weight class is an MMA purist’s dream.
Let’s take a deeper look into a fascinating weight class. Remember, you can bet on your favorite fighters with the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu.
Weight Limit: 135 pounds
Average Height: 67.1” (5’7.1”)
Average Reach: 68.8” (5’9.8”)
Current UFC Rankings (As of January 2017)
Champion: Cody Garbrandt
1. Dominick Cruz
2. T.J. Dillashaw
3. Raphael Assuncao
4. John Lineker
5. Jimmie Rivera
6. Bryan Caraway
7. John Dodson
8. Aljamain Sterling
9. Thomas Almeida
10. Johnny Eduardo
11. Johnny Eduardo
12. Pedro Munhoz
13. Iuri Alcantara
14. Joe Soto
15. Rob Font
We’re going to have to wait a little longer to see champion Cody Garbrandt make his first title defense. Originally scheduled to meet arch-rival T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 213 - after an entire season of watching them bicker at each other on The Ultimate Fighter - it was recently announced that a back injury would cause Garbrandt to miss the fight. Let’s hope it gets rebooked soon, since it’s the single most compelling fight that bantamweight has to offer.
MMA Odds and Ends
While the UFC odds have pulled the Garbrandt-Dillashaw betting lines from the sportsbook, we saw Garbrandt open as a slight favorite only to move into favorite territory after a few weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how oddsmakers set the lines if and when this fight gets remade. That’s a big if, since it’s been rumored that Dillashaw might meet flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson instead.
Fighters to Watch
Former champion Renan Barao will return to the bantamweight division after a 1-1 stint at featherweight. It wasn’t too long ago that Barao was hailed as the “top pound-for-pound fighter” in the sport by Dana White during a dominant championship run. The Brazilian will meet Aljamain Sterling at UFC 214 at July 29 - what happens afterward is anyone’s guess.
Best Body Puncher: John Lineker. I realize that this is a very specific category, but Lineker’s rib shot special is oh so good. Like Garbrandt, he’s got one-punch KO power, and watching dudes crumble after a shot to the solar plexus is a rare treat for MMA fans.
Prospect Watch: Jimmie Rivera. This guy is ready for a title eliminator. A ridiculous 20-1 in pro MMA and 4-0 in the UFC, Rivera’s brutal wrestling game makes him the division’s premier grinder. He may not be fun to watch, but he can sap the will out of fighters within one round.
The Greatest: Dominick Cruz. He may have lost his belt, but that doesn’t discredit all the years where nobody could touch him. The Dominator is still squarely in the title mix and should be there for the next few years.
The Future of Bantamweight
Let’s hope that this division gains more fans, because the fighters are worthy of our attention. It’s not in danger of going away, but it’s a crime that nobody can pull off a pay-per-view card headliner. For now, hardcore fans will quietly enjoy some of the best matchups the UFC has to offer.
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