Bantamweight is a work in progress. After all, it's been only a couple of years since fighters could even dream of making a living at 135 pounds. Worldwide, the talent pool is almost non-existent and most of the fighters on this list are recent refugees from featherweight. That makes this tournament wide open. The list:
- USA: Dominick Cruz
- Asia/AUS: Takeya Mizugaki
- Europe: Brad Pickett
- Brazil: Wagnney Fabiano
- Canada: Ivan Menjivar
- CIS and Assorted: Artemij Sitenkov
Cruz and Mizugaki get byes, leaving four fighters to duke it out for a semifinal berth:
3. Brad Pickett vs. 6. Artemij Sitenkov
My Take: Two journeyman, the difference here is Pickett's decision to move to Florida and train with American Top Team. He's improved dramatically since his Cage Rage days, recently scoring a tough win over fellow World Cup participant Ivan Mejivar. I don't see Sitenkov winning this. A sambo expert, he has a grappler's chance. Eleven of his twelve wins have come by tapout.
4. Wagnney Fabiano vs. 5. Ivan Menjivar
My Take: What a thrilling matchup. Menjivar, a Canadian MMA pioneer, looked great in a loss to Pickett last year in the WEC. He returns to the UFC next week in Toronto to take on Charlie Valencia. Fabiano was cut after his loss to Joseph Benavidez last year and failed in an attempt to join the cast of The Ultimate Fighter 14.I think Fabiano would be too much for Ivan on the mat - but boy would Menjivar make him work for it....
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