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Lineage of the UFC Bantamweight Title

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As you have no doubt heard, the Bantamweight title unification rematch between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling is set to go down at UFC 273.

You may remember last March when the UFC was basking in the silence of the Apex, Yan was 31 seconds away from the end of an absolutely dominant fourth round. Yan threw a knee to the temple of Aljamain Sterling, who was doing his best impression of a nun, resulting in Petr’s disqualification due to an illegal knee as Sterling was unable to continue.

After many months of trash talk, Yan and Sterling will finally settle who the undisputed Bantamweight champion is. Before we get to the future of the Bantamweight division, we take a look at the past and discuss the lineage of UFC’s Bantamweight title.

Where It All Began

The Bantamweight strap has always always proven to be difficult to hold on to, ever since Dominick Cruz won the inaugural UFC Bantamweight title after the WEC was absorbed in 2010 by defeating Scott Jorgensen at WEC 53. ‘The Dominator’ successfully defended his title against Urijah Faber and Demetrious Johnson before vacating the championship due to injury.

This would promote Renan Barao to undisputed champion after he defeated Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland as interim champion. Barao would once again face and successfully defend his title against Urijah Faber at UFC 169.

TJ Dillashaw would defeat Barao three months later via TKO late in the fifth round of their UFC 173 bout. Dillashaw would retain the belt with defenses against Joe Soto and in a rematch with Barao in July 2015. However, an ACL tear wouldn’t hold ‘The Dominator’ back from regaining his title, successfully challenging for the crown against Dillashaw in January 2016.

Garbrandt Shows No Love For Cruz

This would set the stage for arguably the most impressive performance for a +200 underdog in a title fight ever when Cody Garbrandt challenged Cruz for the title at UFC 207. Garbrandt danced around Cruz, knocking him down twice and almost finishing him in the fourth. ‘No Love’ styled on Cruz and had one of the most impressive performances of his career. Watch this fight if you haven’t. If you have, go watch it again.

Unfortunately for ‘No Love’, it seems he made a deal with the devil for such a performance against Cruz as he has since lost five of his last six, four via KO/TKO, three of which came in the first round. TJ Dillashaw would regain the title from Garbrandt at UFC 217 and successfully defended against ‘No Love’ in a rematch at UFC 227.

The King of Cringe himself, Henry Cejudo would derail the Dillashaw hype train and taint his legacy by defeating TJ at 125lbs, defending his Flyweight title. Dillashaw was stripped of the Bantamweight championship after testing positive for a banned substance setting the stage for a new champion to be crowned. Henry Cejudo would face Marlon Morales for the now vacant 135lb belt at UFC 238. After finishing Moraes in the third round, Cejudo would defend his newly won Bantamweight title against division legend Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. Cejudo retired from the sport leaving the division without a champion once again.

From here, it’s been All Petr Yan’s story. After defeating Urijah Faber in stunning fashion, he finished Jose Aldo for the vacant Bantamweight belt via TKO in the fifth round of their bout at UFC 251. Having re-watched the first bout with Aljo, it’s clear Yan was never really in any danger and may have finished Aljo until the legal knee incident.

Unfortunately, Aljo fought with a known neck injury and has been out of action since. This injury has been with Aljo ever since his high school wrestling days, but is now at 120% according to coach Ray Longo and training partner Merab Dvalishvili.

While Sterling was recovering, Petr Yan would win the interim Bantamweight title against Corey Sandhagen in Abu Dhabi back in October, in what many fans believe was the UFC’s Fight of the Year.

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

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