1. Renan Barao (30-1, 1 NC)
Barao survived a harrowing opening round against Michael McDonald in his first interim title defense, but from there, the Brazilian’s multifaceted attack took control, as he submitted the Californian with an arm-triangle choke in the fourth round of their UFC on Fuel TV 7 conflict. Unfortunately, a foot injury forced the Nova Uniao fighter to withdraw from his second interim defense against hard-hitting former WEC titleholder Eddie Wineland at UFC 161.
2. Urijah Faber (28-6)
Faber keeps steamrolling all but the most highly ranked competition. At UFC 157, “The California Kid” made short work of Ivan Menjivar, submitting his opponent with a rear-naked choke in the opening frame. The popular Californian followed that performance by choking out good buddy Scott Jorgensen at “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale. Next up for Faber is a UFC on Fox Sports 1 showdown with hard-nosed Brazilian Iuri Alcantara in Boston.
3. Michael McDonald (15-2)
McDonald was able to throw a scare into Renan Barao early in their interim 135-pound title tilt at UFC on Fuel TV 7, but in the long run, the Brazilian proved to be too seasoned for the Modesto, Calif., native. If his skills continue to progress, the future looks bright for the 22-year-old Last Stand Fight Team product, especially in a division that needs star power beyond Urijah Faber. McDonald will have the chance to add another big name to his ledger when he meets Brad Pickett at UFC on Fox Sports 1 in August.
4. Eddie Wineland (20-8-1)
The rangy former WEC champion surprised many observers by outboxing and bloodying Brad Pickett en route to a three-round decision win at UFC 155. Wineland was set to face Renan Barao for interim gold in the main event of UFC 161 but saw that fight scratched when Barao went down with a foot injury.
5. Brad Pickett (23-7)
In a contest that earned “Fight of the Night” honors, Pickett used a diverse attack to outwork Mike Easton over the course of three action-packed frames on April 6. Up next for “One Punch” is a pivotal showdown with another hard-hitting bantamweight, recent title challenger Michael McDonald.
6. Raphael Assuncao (20-4)
Assuncao continues to impress at 135 pounds, most recently adding Englishman Vaughan Lee to his list of victims with a second-round armbar win at UFC on Fuel TV 10. The Ascension MMA leader has gone 4-0 since moving to the bantamweight division in August 2011.
7. Scott Jorgensen (14-7)
While he remains a difficult matchup for anyone in the bantamweight division, three losses in his last four outings have Jorgensen at a crossroads in his career. Most recently, “Young Guns” was submitted by Urijah Faber in the fourth round at “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale. Jorgensen has fallen to only the toughest of opposition in the Octagon, also losing to Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland during his UFC tenure.
8. Eduardo Dantas (15-3)
Dantas needed to erase the sting of an upset loss to Tyson Nam, and he did so at the expense of Nova Uniao stablemate Marcos Galvao. In dispatching Galvao via second-round knockout, “Dudu” showcased the hand speed and precise striking that made him a highly regarded prospect. As it stands, Dantas remains the class of Bellator’s 135-pound division.
9. T.J. Dillashaw (8-1)
After knocking out Issei Tamura just one month prior, Dillashaw again flashed power in his April 20 meeting with Brazilian import Hugo Viana. The Team Alpha Male representative punched out Viana inside the first round, marking Dillashaw’s fourth straight win and third consecutive stoppage.
10. Marlon Moraes (10-4)
In a high-stakes duel between bantamweight up-and-comers, Moraes proved himself the top 135-pound talent on the World Series of Fighting roster. The Brazilian striker, who recently began training with former UFC champion Frankie Edgar, drubbed Tyson Nam in the first round of their March 23 encounter -- an impressive follow-up to Moraes’ November win over Miguel Torres.
Other contenders:Bibiano Fernandes, Marcos Galvao, Ivan Menjivar, Takeya Mizugaki, Tyson Nam.
Continue Reading » MMA Flyweight Rankings