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. The Brazilian will look to extend his unbeaten streak to 32 when he defends the interim strap for a second time against Eddie Wineland at UFC 165.
2. Urijah Faber (28-6)
Faber continued his dominance in non-title bouts at UFC Fight Night 26, taking a unanimous decision over Iuri Alcantara; it was his third straight victory at bantamweight. The Team Alpha Male product was mounted by his Brazilian foe early in the opening frame but recovered to control the majority of the contest with takedowns and ground-and-pound, proving that he remains among the division’s best.
3. Michael McDonald (16-2)
Perhaps no fighter on the UFC Fight Night 26 bill was more impressive than McDonald, who scored a dominant stoppage of tough veteran Brad Pickett with a second-round triangle choke. Even with a loss to interim titlist Renan Barao in his not-so-distant past, the future remains bright for “Mayday,” who will not turn 23 until next year.
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, earning him a shot at interim titlist Renan Barao. While a foot injury to the Brazilian nixed their UFC 161 showdown, the bout has been rebooked for UFC 165 in Toronto.
5. 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. The Brazilian’s most difficult test to date is set for UFC Fight Night 29, where he squares off with T.J. Dillashaw on Oct. 9.
6. Brad Pickett (23-8)
“One Punch” was certainly game in his UFC Fight Night 26 showdown with Michael McDonald, surviving a furious barrage of power punches in the bout’s first 90 seconds. While Pickett’s chin held up in round one, his submission defense ultimately failed him, as “Mayday” locked in a triangle choke to elicit a tap from the Brit in round two.
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. “The Ultimate Fighter 14” finalist looks to continue his ascent on the divisional ladder on Oct. 9, when he meets fellow top 10 bantamweight Raphael Assuncao in Brazil.
10. Marlon Moraes (11-4)
Victories over Miguel Torres and Tyson Nam in his first two World Series of Fighting appearances have established Moraes as the top 135-pound talent on the promotion’s roster. The Brazilian striker affirmed that status at WSOF 4, where he bloodied and battered promotional newcomer Brandon Hempleman en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.
Other contenders:Bibiano Fernandes, Marcos Galvao, Ivan Menjivar, Takeya Mizugaki, Tyson Nam.
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