It’s crowded at the top of the UFC bantamweight division.
Dominick Cruz, Raphael Assuncao, and Marlon Moraes all have legitimate claim to the next crack at UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, and new UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo also has his crosshairs locked on the bantamweight king.
Speaking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show this week, the former champion Dominick Cruz explained why he — and not the other men listed above — deserves the next bantamweight title shot.
“I know I deserve that title shot,” Cruz said (transcript via Sherdog.com). “Because I defended that title more times than anyone in the history of the division. The problem is, I beat him already. You can’t be the best unless you beat the guy that beat you. It’s just common sense. Everybody in the world knows that, including him.”
While this is a strong argument from Cruz, his detractors remind that he was not fought since a December, 2016 loss to former champion Cody Garbrandt. Furthermore, Moraes and Assuncao both have strong arguments for the next shot.
Marlon Moraes, for example, who is the former World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion, is currently on an impressive three-fight streak. This streak is composed of defeats of John Dodson, Aljamain Sterling, and most recently, a knockout of Jimmie Rivera. He made his case for a title shot on Twitter.
1)John Dodson top 5 at the time
2) aljamain sterling – 1:07 seconds ESPN SC highlight
3)jimmy rivera :33 seconds also on ESPN sports center
You tell me who deserves this @danawhite @seanshelby
— Marlon Moraes (@MMARLONMORAES) August 6, 2018
“My resume: 1)John Dodson top 5 at the time 2) aljamain sterling – 1:07 seconds ESPN SC highlight 3)jimmy rivera :33 seconds also on ESPN sports center You tell me who deserves this.” – Marlon Moraes on Twitter.
Assuncao, meanwhile, is 1-1 across two previous bouts with Dillashaw. He also holds a close decision victory over Moraes, which he feels should position him ahead of his fellow Brazilian. He also stated his case on Twitter:
Call me the” professional” the good guy ,whatever …I’m the #1 guy in this division behind the champion (and we are 1-1) 🧐🤔
— Raphael Assuncao (@RaphaAssuncao) August 5, 2018
“Call me the ‘professional’ the good guy ,whatever …I’m the #1 guy in this division behind the champion (and we are 1-1).” -Raphael Assuncao on Twitter.
Which of these three bantamweight contenders do you think deserves the next crack at TJ Dillashaw?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/7/2018.