Dominick Cruz has another torn ACL. Raphael Assuncao has a broken ankle. Renan Barao won his last fight, but he didn’t give the slightest inclination that he’d be able to beat TJ Dillashaw in a rematch. As usual, the injury bug and declining ability has made a mess of the line of top contenders of a particular division – in this instance, the division in question is bantamweight – and now reigning champ Dillashaw is left standing on the dance floor alone, awaiting a dance partner who may or may not ever materialize.
Who should challenge the champ next? Obviously, the UFC can pluck anyone from the rankings and stick them in the cage, and hope that the pay-per-view gets at least two buys (assuming the non-needle-moving challenger has a mom and a dad willing to shell out the dough for the cost of the pay-per-view). But honestly, the idea of Dillashaw having to defend his belt against scrubs with recent losses like Eddie Wineland, Michael McDonald and Johnny Eduardo sucks.
So here are some suggestions! And of course, feel free to add your own.
- Frankie Edgar – He was the lightweight champ, and has firmly entrenched himself in the battlefield of the featherweight division by wrecking Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira and retiring BJ Penn. Can Edgar make the 135-pound cutoff for bantamweight though? That’s a tough question, but if the answer is “yes”, then he’d be a fantastic opponent for Dillashaw – and one who’d likely kick his ass.
- Demetrious Johnson – He may rule the flyweight division with an iron fist, but the frenetic “Mighty Mouse” has fought up in weight before. Why not let him see if he can be a two-division champ?
- Urijah Faber – Sure, Dillashaw and Faber are mates at Team Alpha Male, but wasn’t there talk of some sort of divide between Faber and Dillashaw’s coach, Duane Ludwig? That could be a compelling angle…
- John Dodson – Dodson is a fast, hard-hitting contender in the flyweight division, and though he can’t seem to muster enough ability to dethrone Johnson, he might have better luck moving up and taking on Dillashaw. Either way, it would be a fun matchup.
- Joe Warren – Yeah, yeah, he’s Bellator’s champ, but it would be cool to see some cross-promotional competition, no?