The Race to Two Divisions

With Conor McGregor’s recent success in securing two UFC world titles in the span of   11 months, fellow fighters are striving towards the same goal.  While it’s clear the UFC won’t allow anyone to hold two titles simultaneously seeing as how they stripped their biggest star of his featherweight title prior to his fight for the lightweight title, there are current competitors who could soon join the likes of McGregor, Randy Couture, BJ Penn in the class of multiple division champions.

Holly Holm pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history when she dethroned Ronda Rousey of her bantamweight championship at UFC 193, but since her victory she’s lost three consecutive fights to Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, and Germaine de Randamie in a fight for the UFC women’s featherweight title.  Despite being on the losing end in a controversial bout, Holm could still find herself in the title picture at featherweight since it’s likely that the current champ, de Randamie is going to move back down to bantamweight, relinquishing her title in the process.  The plan was for Cris Cyborg to fight Holm instead of de Randamie, but plans fell through due to Cyborg’s inability to make the weight on time.  The UFC has an opportunity to eventually book the fight they initially wanted should Holm move back up to 145 lbs and more importantly be willing to take on Cyborg.  Holm didn’t seem too pleased with the prospects of facing Cyborg due to recently being flagged by USADA, causing concern with whether she is clean.

Frankie Edgar is likely in line for another title shot at the new featherweight champion Max Holloway, which could result in him joining the two division champion club, but with Holloway on an 11 fight winning streak it’s difficult to picture him losing to anyone at featherweight.  Still, Cub Swanson has stated he was promised a title shot by the UFC and is making his case for the title shot and title shots have a history of being unpredictable.  Despite not sounding too enthusiastic about a cut to 135 lbs, Edgar still has a chance at chasing the bantamweight title if things don’t go his way at featherweight.  Interestingly enough, Edgar probably has the best chance of anyone at being considered a three division champion.  At this point in his career he might just go after history for the sake of his legacy.

Amanda Nunes is the current women’s bantamweight champion and has publicly stated she wants to wear the featherweight title as well at some point, but has shied away from the prospect of making it a reality when Cyborg’s name came up.  Nunes specifically stated she wanted to fight de Randamie, but cited the size difference that Cyborg poses as the reason she wouldn’t take the fight until consulting with her coaches.  Could you imagine if Nunes can include both Cyborg and Rousey in her resume?

Speaking of women’s MMA, the current UFC strawweight champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk or Joanna Champion has openly admitted she’d like to make the newly announced 125 lb women’s division her new home after she breaks Rousey’s record in title defenses.  She’s done a fine job of dominating her division thus far and avoiding the extra 10 pounds could so wonders for her performance at flyweight, but it could also provide a bigger opponent with an advantage in a potential title fight.  It’d be smart to just hand over the title and save everyone the trouble if Joanna Champion continues to dismantle everyone in her path.

TJ Dillashaw is fairly close in being handed a title shot at Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight title, but first we’ll have to see how things play out between Johnson and the UFC.  Cody Garbrandt revealed his plans of moving down to 125 lbs to challenge DJ after his now cancelled title fight against Dillashaw, but he is now sidelined and forced to wait just like the rest of us.

Former UFC lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos will be in action this Saturday night against Tarec Saffiedine at UFC Fight Night 111 and at only 32-years-old, he has the opportunity to move up the ladder at welterweight should he come out victorious against the the #11 ranked Saffiedine.  Holding two victories over the currently #8 ranked Donald Cerrone at lightweight helps his cause in moving up to a higher ranked opponent.  For all his faults in the promoting game, dos Anjos is highly skilled in Muay thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and wrestling and his speed should translate well in his new division, but his chin will be tested more likely than not.

GSP has made it clear that he wants the middleweight title, but until its set in stone can we entertain the idea of him joining the club.  Jose Aldo on the other hand is coming off a tough loss and despite being finished by Holloway in the third round, he still has a shot at redeeming his career at lightweight.  Aldo’s struggle to make 145 lbs is well documented and although the Aldo camp has revealed both an injury and plans to await the winner between Edgar and Holloway should they fight next, we could see Aldo chasing after the lightweight gold and it’s fair to say he’d provide a challenge to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and even Conor McGregor in a rematch.  Aldo has teased moving up to lightweight for years in the past, but with no title strapped around his waist there aren’t too many reasons to stick around at featherweight at this stage of his career.

Other candidates such as Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson could do fairly well in the weight class above their own, but it’s hard to see them moving up unless the flyweight division is eliminated.  Jones has teased moving up to heavyweight plenty of times in the past and Johnson fought for the title at bantamweight and even though he walked away the loser, his skill set should translate fairly well.

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