UFC Ft. Lauderdale was this past Saturday and the main event featured Jacare Souza vs Jack Hermansson. The card also featured other fan favorites to include Mike Perry, Glover Teixeira, Andrei Arlovski, Carla Esparza, and my personal favorite (also a good follow on Twitter) Angela Hill. This card had plenty of great fights but the one that could possibly shake-up the bantamweight division saw John Lineker taking on Cory Sandhagen.
Cory Sandhagen (4-0, UFC) defeated John Lineker (15-4, UFC) by split decision to remain undefeated in the UFC. This was a fun fight to watch as both fighters mixed it up in a striking battle. I think the difference in the fight was Sandhagen’s height and reach advantage. Personally, I had Sandhagen winning all three rounds as he dominated the action and caused Lineker to look desperate while throwing wild punches.
With the recent suspension of TJ Dillashaw and the announcement of Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes for the vacant bantamweight belt, this fight could springboard the winner into the championship picture. At this point in time, the winner of the Cejudo/Moraes fight will most likely defend the belt against the winner of the Aljamain Sterling vs Pedro Munhoz upcoming fight.
With this recent loss, Lineker will remain a staple in a division, but will most likely drop out of the top ten. Lineker will most likely want to get back in there soon against a top ten opponent. I think Lineker should hope to be matched up against Cody Stamann. Stamann is ranked number ten in bantamweight division and is 3-1 in has last four fights losing only to Aljamain Sterling. With a victory over Stamann, Lineker would be back in the top ten with the possibility of fighting his way back into title contention.
Cory on the other hand, with this win over Lineker, he is now ranked #8 in the division. The win gives him another solid victory in his short UFC career after previously defeating the game Iuri Alcantara. During his of his post-fight interviews, I was looking for him to call out Jimmie Rivera or Cody Garbrandt. Both are still in the top ten of the division and Cody is a former champion. Sandhagen has stated that he wouldn’t mind fighting Dominick Cruz, whom he has credited for getting him into martial arts by watching the WEC. I think a win over Jimmie, Cody, or Dominick would shoot Sandhagen make him a rising force in the division.
Although the fight between Lineker and Sandhagen was not a sexy fight on the UFC Sunrise card, it was a fight that should help shape the future of the bantamweight division. If John had won, you could say the old guard was still in play for a title shot. But since Cory won, there could be a young lion on the prowl ready to roar and seize control of the division.
The bantamweight division should keep an eye on these two guys going forward.