This weekend at UFC 250 we have plenty of implications for the future of the Bantamweight division and a title fight with possibly the most dominant champion in the sport today. The Bantamweight division is in limbo since Henry Cejudo announced his supposed retirement (He’ll be back) and vacated his title. It has completely changed the landscape of the division for the time being. With Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo targeted as the vacant title fight, we have a couple fights here which may dictate who the winner’s first title defence will be against. So with that in mind we’ll get right into the card!
As a bonus we’ll include the main event of the prelims as it’s too interesting a fight to pass up. We have the always exciting journeyman Alex Caceres taking on the 20 year old Chase Hooper. Hooper who was discovered during Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series was 9 years old when Caceres made his pro MMA debut which pretty much beggars belief. It’s hard to say stylistically how this will play out as Hooper has one fight in the UFC but it was a 1st round TKO and if that’s an indicator we may be in for a treat. I’m taking Hooper as I believe the UFC has set this up as a showcase fight for him and Caceres isn’t shy of a loss.
Chase Hooper via Decision
Speaking of showcase fights we have rising star “Sugar” Sean O’Malley taking on former WEC Bantamweight Champion Eddie Wineland. O’Malley is a colourful character to say the least, quite literally in fact as he’s dyed his hair to a rainbow multicolour for this fight. He’s made waves since joining the UFC but his career stalled due to a contested anti-doping violation but I fully expect him to continue his rise in this fight. The UFC have given him a tough test though in the veteran Wineland who will give Sean the toughest test of his young career. I think O’Malley gets the job done relatively early, which will set up a fight with a ranked opponent in his next fight.
Sean O’Malley via 2nd Round TKO
Neil Magny has been a fighter always in and around the welterweight rankings. He has some signature wins against the likes of Kelvin Gastelum, Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit. Unfortunately, the big fight has always been a step to far for Magny. So this fight against Anthony Rocco Martin feels like a crossroads in his career. In order to stay relevant and near those rankings he’s going to have to get the W. Similarly, for Martin he’ll be looking to get back on a win streak after his razor thin loss to Demian Maia halted a four fight win streak. Personally I think this is the sort of fight Magny gives us the best version of himself and I expect him to get it done.
Neil Magny via Decision
In what should be the No.1 contenders fight for the next bantamweight title shot, we have Aljamain Sterling taking on Cory Sandhagen. This is an incredibly close fight to call, Sterling is on a four fight win streak, taking out ranked fighters in all four fights. Sandhagen on the other hand is undefeated in the UFC with five straight wins since his debut and in his last fight he put in a great display against division gate keeper Raphael Assunção, who we’ll get to next. In all honesty I wouldn’t disagree with somebody picking either fighter here but I’m going to ride with Sterling. I think he’s made huge improvements since his devastating loss against Marlon Moraes and I think he’s the toughest test Sandhagen has faced by a good measure.
Aljamain Sterling via Decision
This is a quintessential must win fight for both men, for very different reasons. Garbrandt is on a three fight skid since losing the UFC Bantamweight Championship and is desperate need of a win to get things back on track. Assunção conversely needs a win to prove he can still compete at the top level. At 37 years of age, Assunção must be thinking about the end of his career and a third loss on the spin may mean retirement is on the cards.
In this one, Garbrandt has to rediscover his tantalising form from his championship victory against Dominick Cruz. We know he can be the best Bantamweight on the planet but he needs to find a level of discipline that was missing in his fights against both T.J Dillashaw and Pedro Munhoz. I think his coaches will have stressed this to no end, so that’s why I’m picking him.
Cody Garbrandt via 2nd Round TKO
Amanda Nunes makes the first defence of her UFC Featherweight championship against Canadian Felicia Spencer in this card’s main event. Look I’d love to waffle on about Spencer having a chance and potentially springing an upset here but I just can’t see it. I think she’ll put in a spirited performance like she did against Cris Cyborg but in my opinion Nunes is so far ahead of anyone else in her divisions, unless Valentina Shevchenko wants a third fight.
So unfortunately I think this one’s only ending one way.
Amanda Nunes via 3rd Round TKO