In the co-main event of the evening, we’ll see reining bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz attempt to defend his title against dangerous challenger Cody Garbrandt. Earlier on the main card, we’ll witness another high-stakes bantamweight scrap, as former champion TJ Dillashaw takes on stone-fisted former flyweight John Lineker. The winner of this fight, it would seem, is the obvious next opponent for the winner of the card’s Cruz vs. Garbrandt co-main event battle.
As it turns out, however, this is not necessarily certain. In UFC 207’s episode of The Watch List, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby explained that while the winner of Dillashaw vs. Lineker is certainly a frontrunner for the next bantamweight title shot, the presence of other contenders like Jimmie Rivera, Bryan Caraway and John Dodson in the division means nothing is certain.
“THE GREAT THING ABOUT THE BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISION RIGHT NOW [IT’S] ON FIRE,” SHELBY SAID. “I DON’T THINK THERE’S ANOTHER DIVISION WITH MORE CONTENDERS. WE’LL SEE WHAT WE GET OUT OF THIS FIGHT [IN TERMS OF CONTENDERS]. ON PAPER, REGARDLESS OF TITLE CONTENDERSHIP, IT’S STRAIGHT FIRE. IT’S ALL OFFENSE.”
“[JIMMIE] RIVERA HAS BEEN OUTSTANDING, YOU GOT [BRYAN] CARAWAY WHO IS STILL UP THERE IN THE TOP-SIX, YOU GOT [JOHN] DODSON,” SHELBY SAID. “THERE’S SO MANY GUYS, AND THERE’S GUYS COMING UP BREAKING INTO THE TOP 10. I’M SO HAPPY WITH THE DIVISION RIGHT NOW.”
There is certainly no refuting Shelby’s statements. Bantamweight is a downright shark tank at the moment, and UFC 207 is a fantastic showcase for it.
Dillashaw will enter his bout with Lineker having rebounded from his January title loss to Cruz with a dominant decision over Raphael Assuncao at July’s UFC 200. Lineker, meanwhile has gone 4-0 since jumping from flyweight to bantamweight, having most recently nabbed a contentious decision over John Dodson.
Who do you think deserves the next bantamweight title shot? Sound off, PENN Nation!