UFC Vegas 27 – The Fallout

UFC
Mandatory Credit: Chris Unger – Zuffa LLC

Bantamweight MMA really is something else. On any given Saturday within the top-five of the UFC — even the top-ten of the division, anyone could crown themselves as a titleholder. It’s the most compelling division in the promotion at the moment — and with the continued surge and streak of Rob Font on Saturday night, he’s put himself in prime position for a title-eliminator at the very least next.

The New England Cartel mainstay turned in arguably the most impressive performance of his Octagon run to date, in his most high-profile UFC walk so far to boot. Drawing the hugely dangerous striker, Cody Garbrandt in the main event tilt — Font completely outclassed the former undisputed titleholder from round one all the way to the fifth and final klaxon on route to a one-sided victory.

Of course, Garbrandt had been stopped in three of his last four Octagon walks prior to Saturday’s headliner, and those three defeats were some of the most taxing a fighter can take; three consecutive knockouts. Font’s performance against the Ohio striker may come as the most impressive of the lot, however.   

Significant questions have been asked of Garbrandt’s fight IQ, particularly when he finds himself on the receiving end of punishment, ala his losses to T.J. Dillashaw and Pedro Munhoz. However, now under the tutelage of Mark Henry mainly, Garbrandt displayed much-improved patience against Raphael Assuncao before his Knockout of the Year candidate last July. Even against Font on Saturday he appeared composed, however, it was his lack of activity and failure to press back resulting in his one-sided defeat.

Font simply bloodied and battered Garbrandt from the second round onward on route to the biggest win of his professional career to date, and whilst he’s unlikely to climb much higher, or even move from his #3 perch, he’s now primed himself for a title-eliminator next.

I favored Garbrandt to eventually take out Font within the second frame due to his highly dangerous and reaction-drawing hands. How wrong was I? It remains to be seen if Garbrandt can ever return consistently to displays that set him up for eventual gold, however, it’s worth noting his lengthy and well-documented battle with COVID-19 last year — which left him with numerous health issues. 

Below, join me as I play matchmaker for the streaking Font, as well as the fluctuating former champion, Garbrandt.

Cory Sandhagen – T.J. Dillashaw Loser vs. Rob Font:

As mentioned above, Font is still in need of a win before looking toward the rematch victor between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. Next in line will surely be the winner of the July 24th. main event between Cory Sandhagen and former titleholder, T.J. Dillashaw. And that’s where Font now comes into the equation. 

Sandhagen or Dillashaw will challenge for the bantamweight title next, and the loser, while not losing that much of a head of steam, will need to establish at least a two-fight run before they consider another potential title shot.
Aurora native, Sandhagen has turned in a pair of notable knockout wins recently — the most recent of which against former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar back at UFC Vegas 18 in February. 

For Angels Camp veteran, Dillashaw, he’s been sidelined since January of 2019 amid a positive USADA test for the banned substance, erythropoietin (EPO).

Given the fact Font is unlikely to leapfrog neither Sandhagen nor Yan with his victory, he’s a viable option to clash with either the former or Dillashaw next in a bid to earn his first title challenge under the promotion’s banner.

Cody Garbrandt vs. Marlon Moraes:

Both Cody Garbrandt and Marlon Moraes looked like true and utter world beaters prior to their pair of respective lapses in form and performances. 

Former champion, Garbrandt has now dropped four of his last five Octagon appearances, with his sole victory coming against the above-mentioned, Assuncao. Even on Saturday, he looked like a shadow of his former self; the version which led him to an undisputed bantamweight title via a sheer masterful performance against two-time division best, Dominick Cruz.

Moraes, a one-time title challenger under the UFC, now plys his trade at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida following an extended stay with Ricardo Almeida and the aforenoted, Mark Henry. 

Last December, former WSOF bantamweight kingpin, Moraes was tasked with overcoming Font himself — dropping an eventual first round knockout loss; the first time he had been finished with strikes in the opening frame since 2008. 

Moraes currently sits at #6 in the official bantamweight stack, and has yet to score a victory since his close split decision win over former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo back in December of 2019 at UFC 245 — which many, albeit not myself, believe he actually lost.

Pair former champion, Garbrandt with the still very dangerous Moraes next, with the victor keeping their spot in the official top-ten of the UFC’s bantamweight ranks. 

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