Cleat Geeks

The State of the MMA Division — Featherweight

The State of the Division – Featherweight


The featherweight division got a lot more interesting back in June when interim Champion Max Holloway defeated Jose Aldo by 3rd-round TKO to become the unified Champion. Although neither fighter has fought since, the landscape of the division looks good with a lot of solid competitors at the top. Alarmingly, there are currently only two top-10 fighters in the division with bouts scheduled. Although a rematch between Aldo and Ricard Lamas has been rumored for UFC 217 in November, nothing has been made official by the UFC. Holloway is in the middle of a contract dispute with the UFC regarding his pay but has said that he expects that to get done sometime soon. His first title defense will come against perennial contender and former lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar when they headline UFC 218 in December. That fight will create a good stylistic match-up and a great fight for the fans between two guys who rarely disappoint in the Octagon.

Cub Swanson, Chan Sung Jung (aka Korean Zombie), Brian Ortega, Yair Rodriguez, Jeremy Stephens, Darren Elkins and Renato Moicano round out the rest of the top-10 in the division. As I mentioned above, only two of these fighters currently have a bout scheduled and most have not been in the ring in a while. Swanson seemed to be sitting on the sidelines awaiting a title shot after his defeat of Artem Lobov in a main event in April, improving his win streak to 4. His match-up with Brian Ortega should net one of them a title shot or at least put them within reach. Chan Sung Jung had his first fight in 3+ years when he beat Dennis Bermudez via first-round KO in February. He was scheduled to fight Ricardo Lamas at UFC 214 in an important battle but pulled out of the fight due to injury. We haven’t heard anything about him since that time, but he’s battled injuries for the majority of his career.

Brian Ortega is coming off a submission win over Renato Moicano in July and has finished 5 straight if you count his win that was overturned due to a positive drug test. He’ll get the toughest test of his career against Cub Swanson, with the chance to prove he belongs in the title discussion. Yair Rodriguez is coming off his first UFC loss, a doctor’s stoppage TKO to Frankie Edgar at UFC 211 in May. He said this week that he anticipates having another fight before the end of the year although he doesn’t have an opponent in mind. He’s a very marketable fighter and has 4 Performance of the Night bonuses in just 7 UFC fights.

Jeremy Stephens beat Gilbert Melendez earlier this month via unanimous decision against the former lightweight title challenger in his featherweight debut. Prior to that, Stephens dropped two straight to Frankie Edgar and the aforementioned Moicano. He’s just 3-5 in his last 8 in the UFC, losing to all of the top contenders he’s faced recently. Darren Elkins has rattled off 5 straight victories with his most recent win being a split decision against Dennis Bermudez back in July. He also earned his first finish since 2013 earlier this year in March. With 17 fights in the UFC, the time is now for Elkins if he looks to make a run at the featherweight title.


Ideal Match-ups:



Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas


These two met back in at UFC 169 in February of 2014 when Aldo was able to take a unanimous decision in a one-sided win. The rematch would be much more interesting with Aldo having lost two bouts by finish since then, while Lamas has still hung around the top-1o of the divison, losing only to Chad Mendes and Holloway. This fight shouldn’t be a title eliminator but should get the winner into a title eliminator.


Chan Sung Jung vs. Yair Rodriguez


This fight would boost the winner into immediate title contention and would likely provide some serious fireworks. They’re both aggressive with slick submissions and great striking while this fight could easily headline an event in South America or Asia.



Jeremy Stephens vs. Myles Jury


Stephens has proved he can’t hang with the top-5 of the division and Jury needs a chance to get back on track at 145. He lost his featherweight debut vs. Charles Oliveira but rebounded nicely with a first-round TKO of Mike De La Torre. These two could kick off a PPV main card or even co-headline a free TV card.



Renato Moicano vs. Darren Elkins


Moicano shocked the world when he beat Jeremy Stephens by split decision in April of this year. He was submitted by Ortega in July and Elkins would be the perfect veteran to welcome him back into the Octagon. Elkins has fought just about every prospect in the division and those who’ve beat him have gone on to do great things in the division.


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