The top of the bantamweight division right now is a little congested and it’s about to get even worse at UFC Vegas 27 this weekend.
With Aljamain Sterling currently recovering from neck surgery after winning the 135lbs championship via disqualification against Petr Yan at UFC 259. Because of the nature of the ending of the bout, there is expected to be a rematch once Sterling is cleared to fight again.
Just below them is the number two ranked contender Cory Sandhagen, who was scheduled to fight against TJ Dillashaw earlier this month only for the former champion to withdraw from the fight due to a cut received in training.
With that fight almost certain to determine who the next title contender is, it makes this weekend’s huge fight between Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt even more interesting.
The number three and four ranked bantamweights in the world clash in the main event of UFC Vegas 27, with both men coming into it off the back of super impressive performances. Font is on a three-fight win streak that got topped off with a brilliant first-round knockout against former title challenger Marlon Moraes at UFC Vegas 17 in December.
Garbrandt on the other hand recovered from a three-fight skid with a stunning knockout of Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250 last June, before he saw a title fight at flyweight against Deiveson Figueiredo fall through due to injury.
Instead he’s hung around at his more natural weight class and taken a fight against one of the most lethal strikers in the division, where a win will give Dana White a real headache when it comes to what to do next.
It was a fantastic performance from ‘No Love’ last time out, as he bobbed and weaved through Assuncao’s power with an excellent jab and great footwork before ducking down and landing a huge haymaker to end the fight on the buzzer.
That came after three consecutive knockout defeats, where Dillashaw turned his lights out twice before Pedro Munhoz poured the pressure on and won in a firefight. It was a more mature performance from Garbrandt as he was patient behind his strikes and looked to avoid getting his head taken off, rather than trying to walk through it.
But when he comes up against Font it will be a whole new ball game. The 33-year-old has earned a reputation as one of the best boxers in the entire UFC, never mind the bantamweight division, and when he throws it comes with venom and accuracy.
That’s a recipe for disaster for Garbrandt, who has been prone to going down against power punchers and leaving his chin in the air. But considering the new maturity of performance he showed against Assuncao, this is a great chance for him to show if he really is back or if the criticism he received for “handpicking an opponent” was justified.
If he’s able to survive the test that a game Font will put on for him, then he’ll be deserving of all the praise that will undoubtedly come his way. If he gets iced by Font however, it will show that he has a huge issue against the elite of the division and that his title win may have just been a timing thing rather than him ever being the top dog.
For Font, a win shows he belongs at the top of the division and that is ranking isn’t a false position and his next fight could well be against one of Yan, Sandhagen or Dillashaw before a potential title fight himself.
He could either fall flat on his face against a former champion, which is no shame, or beat one and do himself no harm.
It’s without a doubt going to be a banger of a fight and one that will have huge repercussions at the top of the division for both men. Don’t miss it.