A new bantamweight champion will soon be crowned and it appears Marlon Moraes will battle Henry Cejudo for the vacant title.
UFC president Dana White announced the news on Saturday night from Nashville.
Former champion T.J. Dillashaw relinquished the belt earlier this week after revealing that there were ‘adverse’ finding in a drug test administered around his last fight in January. As a result, Dillashaw was suspended for one year by the New York State Athletic Commission and fined $10,000.
With Dillashaw surrendering the belt, the bantamweight division needs a new champion.
“I now have a plan. I didn’t have a plan before, now I have a plan,” White explained on the ESPN+ post fight show. “It looks like we’re going to do the [Marlon] Moraes-[Henry] Cejudo fight. They both want that fight really bad, seems like a good fight to make with the whole [TJ] Dillashaw thing now.”
Moraes was the most obvious choice after he’s rattled off four straight wins including three finishes over Aljamain Sterling, Raphael Assuncao and Jimmie Rivera.
As for Cejudo, he earned a 32-second knockout against Dillashaw in January at flyweight and immediately called for a title opportunity at 135 pounds. Now it looks like he’ll get his wish, but he’ll have to go through Moraes if he wants to win a seconod world title.
Meanwhile, White also said that he would like to book a rematch between Jussier Formiga and Joseph Benavidez on the same card.
White was somewhat confusing with the language he used when speaking about the potential matchup by saying that Benavidez or Formiga could step into the main event if something happened to Moraes or Cejudo, which made it sound like the fight could be taking place at bantamweight.
He then closed by saying the fight between Benavidez and Formiga would determine the next No. 1 contender, which would seem to point at a flyweight title shot considering neither athlete has compete at bantamweight in several years.
“Then you do [Jussier Formiga] vs. [Joseph] Benavidez on the same card. Anything goes wrong, one of them can step up and take the fight,” White said. “Then the winner of that fight is the guaranteed No. 1 contender for the next shot.”
It remains unclear exactly what White was planning for the flyweight division but it appears at least two marquee matchups are in the works for the near future with a new bantamweight champion being crowned sooner rather than later.
There’s no word yet on when those fights could happen, although UFC 238 in Chicago is still expected to get a second title bout and it’s possible Moraes vs. Cejudo could fit the bill.