Quietly, the UFC’s bantamweight division has started to transform into one of the most compelling divisions in all of MMA. From the triumphant return of champion Dominick Cruz, to the split from Team Alpha Male of former champion, TJ Dillashaw to the emergence of incredible young talent there is a lot of good things going on in the division. On Sunday night, May 29, 2016, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, at UFC Fight Night 88, the bantamweight division will be the premier attraction.

Starting with the featured UFC Fight Pass preliminary card bout between Aljamain Sterling and Bryan Caraway and ending with the main event bout between Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt, the night is all about the “little” guys. With three of the four fighters currently ranked in the UFC bantamweight Top 10 and three of four fighters still boasting undefeated records what happens on Sunday night will greatly affect the core of the division and will ultimately identify the next major threat to the bantamweight crown.

As it stands now, Cruz is set to defend his reclaimed title against his bitter rival, Uriah Faber, at UFC 199 in June, while former champion at current number one contender Dillashaw will look to get back on track at UFC 200 as he takes on number five ranked Raphael Assuncao.

Should Cruz and Dillashaw both emerge victorious it’s very likely the UFC will move forward with Cruz vs. Dillashaw II for the bantamweight title sometime this fall. That means the two winners from Sunday’s bantamweight showdowns will likely be paired against one another with an early 2017 bantamweight title shot on the line.

There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of things can happen to alter the course of the division in the next few months, but it is clear whoever emerges from the two bantamweight bouts on Sunday is destined to be in the title mix sooner rather than later.

To make things even more enticing to fans, both matchups are exceptional from a stylistic stand point; honestly the UFC did a great job pairing these four fighters in this mini tournament of sorts.

In Sterling and Caraway, you have two gifted grapplers who make the ground game fun to watch for everyone. Then in Almeida and Garbrandt, you have two of the division’s most explosive and powerful strikers.

Be sure to watch closely on Sunday because there is no doubt the future champion of the UFC bantamweight division will be putting on a show.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.