Following Henry Cejudo‘s shock retirement and subsequent relinquishment of his bantamweight title, the belt is now vacant. Dana White announced his plans to have Jose Aldo and Petr Yan compete for the title. However, the two most deserving contenders happen to be fighting at UFC 250 this weekend… for no title. Here’s why Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen should be fighting for the title instead.
We have already recently explored Aljamain Sterling’s elusive title shot. Sterling’s last outing was against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 238, which should’ve been a title eliminator itself. Munhoz was fresh off a knockout victory over former champion Cody Garbrandt and ranked #4 at the time. Sterling won the bout via unanimous decision, extending his winning streak to four. This followed a win over #5 ranked Jimmie Rivera. He currently sits #2 in the rankings and rightfully so.
Like Sterling, Cory Sandhagen also rides a four-fight winning streak at 135-lbs. Undefeated in the UFC with five wins, his last victory came against Raphael Assuncao at UFC 241. Assuncao was ranked #3 at the time and 11-2 in his last 13. Those losses came in rematches against TJ Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes, whom Assuncao previously defeated. This followed a victory over John Lineker to break Sandhagen into the top 10 and warrants a title shot.
UFC 250: The Perfect Date
UFC 250 is by no means a weak card, but some fans have cited a lack of star power as a detriment. Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer top the bill, and another title fight would certainly do no harm. With the date set, Sterling and Sandhagen have already agreed to lock horns. It would be hard to imagine either fighter objecting to an additional two rounds if the gold was up for grabs. Putting the belt on the line would bolster the event on paper and begin moving the division on from Henry Cejudo. At a time when championship fights may be scarce, it makes perfect sense.
Jose Aldo and Petr Yan
Jose Aldo is the most decorated champion in UFC featherweight history, but he does not merit a bantamweight title shot. Aldo made his bantamweight debut against compatriot Marlon Moraes at UFC 245. He lost the fight via a close split decision, with many expressing their upset at the judges’ choice. Despite this, Aldo is 0-1 in the division is nowhere near a title fight.
Petr Yan also competed that same night. He earned an impressive knockout victory over Urijah Faber. Despite Faber only being ranked #12 that night, this led many fans to label Yan as the new #1 contender. Yan’s most impressive feather in his cap is Jimmie Rivera, who was #7 at the time. He was originally scheduled to face Marlon Moraes in Kazakstan this June. Yan is a fantastic prospect, but without a top-five win to his name, his next fight should be for the #1 contender spot rather than the title.
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