UFC 1-Outs: Another New Champ

 The year of the new champ

The year of the new champ

We'll get on to Robbie Lawler's loss to Tyron Woodley in a jiffy, seeing as I skipped a week in the UFC 1-Outs last week though we've got some women's bantamweight shenanigans to roll through. One of the trends I've rolled through since I started following the UFC closely has been the growing strength of the women's bantamweight division, which really started when Holly Holm torched Ronda Rousey.

Since then, I've jumped on the rollercoaster and enjoyed the ride as we've seen the belt change hands numerous times and we've also been treated to interesting results like Holm's loss to Valentina Shevchenko at UFC Chicago last weekend. Holm beat Rousey, then lost her belt to Miesha Tate and is now in the aftermath of a second-straight loss. This came after Amanda Nunes beat Tate and Julianna Pena beat Cat Zingano, Shevchenko's win catapulted her up four spots in the rankings and put her in the mix for a title shot.

As it stands, the women's bantamweight rankings look like this...

Champ: Amanda Nunes
#1 Miesha Tate
#2 Ronda Rousey
#3 Valentina Shevchenko
#4 Holly Holm
#5 Julianna Pena
#6 Cat Zingano

Shevchenko's win over Holm threw the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons, in what was already a hectic division. She'll probably have to take another fight against someone like Tate before she's in the mix for a title fight as Nunes looks fairly likely to defend her belt against Pena, with Pena rolling through enough wins to work herself into contention. Holm has lost any ability to pick and chose her fights, she must now take whatever is given to her and needs to stack up a win or two. Rousey is still absent so who knows what she's up to and this is the great thing about the women's bantamweight division because who really cares about what Rousey's up to.

This division has moved beyond the days of Rousey dominating and instead of one dominant force, we've seen the division become a melting pot of skilled fighters who all offer some sort of threat to the title belt. Shevchenko's win over Holm only took this to a new level as she shouldered her way into the upper echelon of the division and we can add Shevchenko's name to a division that is almost full to the brim.

I still put the women's bantamweight division near the top as the most interesting UFC division.

Tyron Woodley hit Robbie Lawler with his famed right hand, dropping Lawler to the canvas in the first round to take the belt off Lawler in a fairly epic result for Woodley at UFC 201. Woodley hadn't fought since January 31, 2015, waiting for his moment to step into the spotlight and after defending his belt against Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit, Lawler will have to wait a fight or two to get his chance at another title shot.

Lawler has shown that he can a few hefty blows, headlined by his epic fight against MacDonald but when Woodley hits you with that right hand #GoodLuck. Woodley faked a takedown attempt and then threw a lazy left, pushing Lawler to his right before Woodley swung his sledge-hammer ... very quickly, that sledge-hammer of a right hand was in and out within an instant. Woodley is a noted wrestler and his KO power along with that wrestling ability makes him a dangerous foe.

The sensible match up now, is for Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson to fight Woodley for the belt. Wonderboy is perhaps the best technical striker in the UFC and he earned a title shot when he beat MacDonald in a fight for the MMA nerds out there. Wonderboy also said that he'd rather fight Lawler, predicting that Lawler would beat Woodley and that a Wonderboy vs Lawler fight would be the fight that fans want. 

Woodley made sure he pointed that out in the press conference, while also dropping a few bombs in the press conference. How about fighting Nick Diaz on the same UFC 202 card as Nate Diaz's rematch against Conor McGregor in a few weeks? That was one suggestion from Woodley and the other was equally as swashbuckling, with Woodley calling for a fight against George St. Pierre in the UFC's debut in New York set for November 12.

What came through loud and clear in the press conference was that Woodley is calling the shots. Who knows whether Woodley holds much clout in the match-making department of the UFC, but his desire to fight against big drawcards shouldn't be slept on. Perhaps it's another example of a fighter knowing what they're worth, perhaps it's a new champ getting a bit ahead of himself.

Jake Ellenberger bounced back with a win over Matt Brown in the welterweight division at UFC 202 and he'd be someone to keep an eye on if he's back at his best.