Sterling became the seventh bantamweight champion in promotion history at UFC 259, but it wasn’t a satisfying victory for “The Funk Master.” After three competitive rounds, Sterling was rendered unable to continue in the fourth frame when Petr Yan landed an illegal knee. Sterling’s reaction afterwards said it all, as he dropped the belt on the Octagon floor before leaving the cage. A rematch with Yan was scheduled for UFC 267, but continuing issues after undergoing neck surgery forced Sterling to pull out of the fight. After a delay, the rematch with Yan was booked for UFC 272. Yan put on a masterful performance at UFC 267, taking on Cory Sandhagen for five rounds at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 30. In the end, it was “No Mercy” who landed the toughest punches to claim the interim bantamweight crown with a unanimous decision triumph. The victory goes a long way to erase the bad taste of a disqualification loss to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 for Yan, who has earned eight of nine promotional appearances. A title unification bout with Sterling is scheduled for UFC 272. After his disastrous 2019 attempt to move up to flyweight and become a two-division champion, followed by a two-year suspension for banned EPO performance improvement, Dillashaw returned to UFC on ESPN 27 on July 24. The 35-year-old former bantamweight champion has taken a close split decision on Cory Sandhagen, noting that he is an immediate factor in the title picture of the division he once led. Dillashaw could be an attractive alternative for new interim champ Petr Yan if Aljamain Sterling is slow to recover from neck surgery that forced him out of a planned rematch with Yan and led to a belt claim. interim at UFC 267. Sandhagen started well against Petr Yan in their interim title clash at UFC 267, but ultimately his volume-based offense wasn’t enough to get the nod against the powerhouse. more emphatic from the Russian in a five-round decision loss at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 30. Sandhagen can be competitive against virtually anyone in the division, but after back-to-back losses to Yan and TJ Dillashaw, the Elevation Fight Team product will need to muster up a few wins before they can be considered for another championship opportunity. Even as he enters the twilight of his career, Aldo remains a viable contender in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The Nova Uniao standout proved it once again at UFC on ESPN 31 headliner, where he mixed power punches with opportunistic holds to capture a unanimous verdict on the surging contender. Rob Font. After dropping his first two bantamweight appearances — including a title fight against Petr Yan — Aldo has won three straight outings at 135 pounds. Font had a chance to make some serious progress in the bantamweight division at UFC on ESPN 31, but he ultimately fell short in a unanimous decision loss to former featherweight champion Jose Aldo at the event. main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. While Font landed with superior volume, his Brazilian opponent connected with the most significant strikes of the fight, flooring the Boston native twice. As a result, Font sees a four-fight UFC winning streak come to an end. Font will return against Marlon Vera in a main clash on April 30. Dvalishvili was in shock in the first round of his clash with Marlon Moraes at UFC 266, but ‘The Machine’ rallied from the brink of defeat to author what turned into a dominant technical knockout win. in the second round at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on September 25. That’s six straight wins for the Serra-Longo Fight Team representative, who looks like a nightmarish matchup for much of the bantamweight division thanks to his relentless pace and struggle. Vera earned the most significant victory of her career to date, knocking out former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar with a front kick in the third round of their fight at UFC 268 in New York. The Ecuador native has won three of his last four outings with the Las Vegas-based promotion. During a quietly successful tenure in the UFC, “Chito” is among the organization’s all-time leaders in wins (10) and finishes (nine). Vera will have a marquee match next, when he takes on Rob Font in the UFC in ESPN 35 main event. Pettis snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a dramatic fourth-round back punch from Kyoji Horiguchi to retain his bantamweight crown in the Bellator 272 headliner at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on December 3. Pettis has won his last five fights — including four in a row under the Bellator banner at 135 pounds. Pettis was supposed to compete in the promotion’s 135-pound grand prix, but injury forced him to pull out of an opener with Raufeon Stots at Bellator 279. He’ll likely wait for the winner of the tournament, which will be crowned by interim. champion, at a future event.
10. Yadong Song (19-6-1, 1 NC) 
Song picked up a victory in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 203, knocking out former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes in the evening’s co-main event at UFC Apex in Vegas. The 24-year-old Team Alpha Male product has won three straight bouts and lost just one of 10 total promotional appearances. Another ranked opponent should be in reserve for the “Kung Fu Monkey”.
Other contenders: Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar, Pedro Munhoz, Kyoji Horiguchi, Ricky Simon.
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