On Sunday, May 29, the UFC is headed to Vegas with a card that is headlined by two of the hottest prospects in not only the 135-pound division but the entire promotion. Both #7 Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt have all the tools to be the next big star in the UFC. Although that is the headlining fight, another fight on the card that is headlining the UFC Fight Pass prelims is another big scrap in the bantamweight division between rising prospect #4 Aljamain Sterling and #8 Brian Caraway. By the end of the night, I believe that the winner of both matchups will face off in a fight where the winner gets the next shot at the title.

Everything about this makes a ton of sense. All four of these fighters are very close to the top of the rankings in the division and although I don’t believe any of these fighters deserve a shot with a win on May 29, I do believe with a win they are one more win away from being the next contender, and with the winner of Dillashaw vs Assuncao at UFC 200 most likely getting the next title shot, it makes perfect sense for these two bouts being basically an unofficial 4-man tournament for the next 135-pound contender.

Almeida and Garbrandt are probably the two hottest prospects in the weight class and this is one of the most exciting fights the UFC has booked in a really long time. In most cases, it is typical of the UFC to not have two young rising prospects face off, but they have decided that they would fight each other eventually, so why not now?

Almeida has looked amazing thus far under the promotion, delivering one brutal knockout after another, and even being talked about as the future of the UFC. Almeida is 20-0 at just 24 years old and has been able to take out any opponent the promotion has put in front of him. On the other hand, Team Alpha Male standout Cody Garbrandt has also looked phenomenal under the promotion, going 3-0 with two highlight reel knockouts. Garbrandt has the skills, looks, and attitude to be a champion, but has just not faced any opponent yet in the UFC that has really been a step up in competition to test him. With only eight professional fights, this is going to be his toughest opponent to date, but with the champion mentality that “No Love” has shown, he is expecting to get his hand raised at the end of the bell and if he does beat the highly respected prospect in Almeida, then he is truly as legit as he believes.

Another huge prospect is the undefeated Aljamain Sterling, who had recently made headlines by deciding to test free agency due to believing he deserved more money than the contract the UFC originally offered him. After a few months testing free agency, he ended up resigning with the promotion after reconstructing a contract. This shows that the UFC does believe the investment is worth it, and with Sterling ranked fourth in the division and being 12-0 professionally, (4-0 under the UFC with three finishes), with a win over Caraway he is certain to get a number one contender fight.

His opponent Brian Caraway is no pushover and is known for having some of the best jiu-jitsu in the division, which is where Sterling loves to bring the fight. If this bout hits the ground Sterling is going to be facing an opponent that might be able to test his ground game, which has been his biggest strength thus far. Caraway has been an impressive 5-2 under the UFC, with a split decision loss to Takeya Mizugaki and a very competitive loss to #5 ranked Rafael Assuncao. Of his five wins in the UFC, four have come via submission, so both fighters are very comfortable going to the ground. Although out of the four fighters listed above him, Caraway is definitely the lowest regarded. If he is able to defeat Sterling and then given a bout between the winner of Almeida vs Gabrandt and win again, I don’t see how he wouldn’t be granted a shot at UFC gold.

About The Author

Jake Schneider
Staff Writer

Jake Schneider is a student at the University of Rhode Island who is currently looking to pursue a double major in Communications and Journalism. He is an MMA fanatic who has been following the sport for years. He began to share his wealth of knowledge and opinions on the sport to many of his family members and friends as well as various MMA forums online. His love and passion for the sport has been able to make many people that are a part of his life fans of mixed martial arts as well. His insight of the sport both inside and outside of the cage is what makes his analysis on fights and individual fighters so well informed.

  • Stephen Dierks

    Great article ! I have been reading Mr. Schneider’s anyalysis for quite some time now and its amazing how spot on his predictions and insight always are spot on! Cant wait too see both these megafights Sunday night.