Bantamweight Breakdown – What Vera, Cruz, Aldo, O’Malley and Others Need to Win a UFC Title

UFC men’s bantamweight will take center stage in the coming months, as eight of the top 10 contenders have booked matches, including the champion. Aljamain Sterling.

The 135-pound action kicks off this weekend with a 5-round main event between the former champion Dominick Cruz (24-3) and Marlon “Chito” Vera (July 21) in San Diego. A week later, the former featherweight champion Jose Aldo (31-7) will face Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City.

On September 17, Cory Sandhagen (14-4) and Song Yadong (19-6-1) will open a UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. That bout probably won’t produce an immediate title challenger, but it does feature number 4 and 10 in the UFC bantamweight rankings. And then the biggest night in the department comes on October 22, when Sterling (March 21) faces TJ Dillashaw (17-4) and Petr Yan (March 16) meet Sean O’Malley (15-1) on the same night at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

In short, this division will be completely different by the end of the year. It will have looks completely different because all the top names are facing each other. And because of the activity, there are different ways the block head can play.

Here’s what each candidate needs to do — and the help it needs — to get to the next title at 135 pounds.



Marlon Vera nearly finished off Rob Font three times during their main bout at UFC Fight Night.

What does Marlon Vera need to get a title?

A cheeky knockout against Dominick Cruz. Probably.

In other words, lightning in the bottle. “Chito” Vera had a breakthrough performance in his final match against Rob Fontand he’s got a lot of motivation for himself. His story is brilliant, as a rare Ecuadorian boxer who competes at the highest level, and he has a lot of charisma. If things continue to go wrong for Vera, he has fan-favorite status and star potential in front of him. He’s flashy, funny, and fun inside and out of the Octagon.

But comparing his situation to others, it’s hard to see him picking up a title right after his win this weekend. There are just too many other, more likely scenarios at the moment. Unless he created a viral ending and then completely killed it on the microphone, a la Jorge Masvidalflying knee of vs. Ben Askren, which Vera is capable of. If not, he will likely be looking at two more wins before fighting for a title.

What does Dominick Cruz need to get the title?

A convincing win against Marlon Vera, a win against Aljamain Sterling, a loss to Jose Aldo and a loss to Sean O’Malley.

Did you get them all? Cruz can take the title with a win, but he’s going to need a lot of help. He will need Sterling to hold onto the title with wins over Dillashaw and Yan to beat O’Malley. Because if both of those things happen, it would set up a potential trilogy between Sterling and Yan – something the UFC might not want to do. Anyway, not yet.

So at that point, Cruz was in the mix. But if Aldo beats Dvalishvili, he will probably win the next title. So Cruz needs to win, then he needs Sterling and Yan to do their roles, and then he needs Dvalishvili to get rid of Aldo. And if all of that happens, it’s entirely possible.



Take a look at some of the best moments that have defined Petr Yan’s incredible UFC career leading up to UFC 259.

What will it take Petr Yan to get a title?

One win over Sean O’Malley and one win over TJ Dillashaw – a loss to Jose Aldo didn’t matter either.

That’s it. Yan is set up very nicely. He is battling arguably the biggest name in the league, on the same card as the title war between Sterling and Dillashaw. If Sterling wins, I don’t see the UFC returning to a Sterling-Yan third fight so soon. But if Dillashaw wins, I don’t know why Yan didn’t get the title. His biggest threat will be Aldo as there will be a lot of interest in the title fight between Dillashaw and Aldo. However, Yan would have been more deserving, and he fought the same night as the fight for that title. If both Dillashaw and Yan win, the sport will talk about that fight in no time.



Sean O’Malley sat down with Brett Okamoto to discuss his UFC 269 fight and why he considers himself an underrated bantamweight champion.

What does Sean O’Malley need to get a title?

A win over Petr Yan.

What else would be left next to a title at that point? Yes, O’Malley has been bestowed with a quick song, but if he does his part well and beats Yan, all that’s left for him is a title. He said he wouldn’t mind if the UFC handed Aldo a title ahead of him, but even if that happens, there’s a good chance O’Malley will wait and fight the eventual winner. together. If O’Malley beats Yan, he will establish himself as a top contender, and his name is already big enough. He doesn’t even have to be active to stay in the spotlight. This is the #1 candidate for O’Malley in any way you draw it.



Jose Aldo extended his winning streak to three with a unanimous decision victory over Rob Font.

What will Jose Aldo take to get a title?

A win over Merab Dvalishvili and a caption from the champion.

Get an extra win and then cross your fingers if you are Aldo. If he defeats Dvalishvili, he will win four matches in a row. He would be well-deserved for a title war. This sport, especially this division, is very fond of Aldo. Sterling wants to fight Aldo because he is Aldo. Dillashaw loves to fight Aldo because he is Aldo. Once again, O’Malley has said he wouldn’t mind if the UFC gave Aldo a title ahead of him because he’s Jose Aldo. I can definitely see a world where the winner of Sterling vs. Dillashaw explicitly called for a title defense against Aldo. And if that happens, I think the UFC and its fans will be there.



Marlon Moraes and Merab Dvalishvili showed off their incredible stamina in Round 1 of their UFC 266 bout.

What does Merab Dvalishvili need to get a title?

Not available.

This is not a blow for Dvalishvili, who is on a seven-fight winning streak and could go on to win the UFC championship. But it won’t happen in his next fight. Even if he looked brilliant against Aldo, there was simply no scenario where he would have to fight for the next belt, other than some tough situations where everyone at the top level parts are injured. The good news for Dvalishvili is that he is not far away. Beat Aldo and then get another solid win and he’ll be right there. At that point, Sterling, his coaching partner, would either have to vacate it or lose it, because I didn’t see them play against each other. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.



Henry Cejudo announced his retirement after successfully defending his bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz.

What will it need? Henry Cejudo to get a title shot?

Caption from the champion.

Similar to Aldo’s situation, if the defending champion said he really want to fight Cejudo, the UFC might consider it. Cejudo doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone to justify an instant title shot. He was on top of the world when he retired two years ago, a second-weight champion and one of the best boxers on the planet. If Dillashaw wins, one can easily see him calling out Cejudo’s name, as he wants revenge for the quick knock-out loss he suffered against Cejudo in 2019, right before he was. suspended. Sterling also showed an interest in Cejudo. This scenario is more likely to happen than we think, but Cejudo will need help from whoever is holding the belt.

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