Yasuhiro Urushitani (right) is the world's new No. 1-ranked flyweight. | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
1. Yasuhiro Urushitani (18-4-6)
It was a non-title fight, but in his Nov. 19 appearance against a tough Takuya Mori, Urushitani looked every bit the top 123-pounder in professional Shooto. Urushitani brutally bashed Mori in the first round, earning his first knockout in the Shooto ring in his decade-long career.
2. Mamoru Yamaguchi (25-5-3)
It seems like Shooto’s afroed ace has decided he likes fighting in America: after besting Greg Guzman in Highland, Calif. last August, Mamoru will return to action in the Golden State this spring. The former two-division Shooto world champ will step in for Alexis Vila to face John Dodson at Tachi Palace Fights 9 on May 5 in Lemoore, Calif.
3. Ian McCall (9-2)
Despite having previously competed as a bantamweight in Zuffa LLC-era World Extreme Cagefighting, McCall entered his Feb. 18 bout with top-ranked 125-pounder Jussier da Silva as a little-known underdog. After 15 minutes, the Californian had earned a unanimous nod over “Formiga” by outstriking the Brazilian and stifling his takedowns. With the win, McCall entered a strong bid for the next shot at newly crowned champion Darrell Montague.
4. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (9-1)
Following a successful December stateside debut against Danny Martinez, “Formiga” stepped into the Tachi Palace Fights cage with another WEC veteran, Ian McCall, on Feb. 18. While the early going mirrored the Martinez bout, with Da Silva taking McCall’s back, “Uncle Creepy” outworked the Brazilian down the stretch, stuffing takedowns and landing punches en route to a unanimous decision. There has been no word on when or where Da Silva will return following the first setback of his career.
5. Yuki Shojo (10-5-2)
One of the flyweight division’s most exciting commodities, Shojo will return to action for the first time in nearly a year on March 12. At “Shootor's Legacy 2” in Tokyo, he’ll take on former 114-pound title challenger Noboru “Shinpei” Tahara in what promises to be an entertaining tilt.
6. Darrell Montague (9-1)
“The Mongoose” looked like anything but an underdog in his Feb. 18 Tachi Palace Fights flyweight title bout with Ulysses Gomez. The 23-year-old Montague took the fight to the champion for five rounds, battering Gomez with crisp boxing and earning a clean sweep with three scorecards of 50-45. Montague is expected to make his first title defense in August, likely against Ian McCall or the winner of May’s Mamoru Yamaguchi-John Dodson bout.
7. Ryuichi Miki (10-4-3)
A third bout with Yasuhiro Urushitani was the chance of a lifetime for Miki, who had the opportunity to vie for the Shooto 123-pound world title. However, as in the pair’s first two encounters, it was Urushitani who walked out the victor and remained champion on May 30.
8. Kiyotaka Shimizu (7-3-2)
The flyweight “King of Pancrase” played a minor role in Japan’s New Year’s season festivities. Shimizu was a last-minute addition to the Sengoku Raiden Championship “Soul of Fight” card on Dec. 30, as he defeated Ichiro Sugita by split decision in a one-round, five-minute “jacket rules” bout. Real opposition for the Pancrase champion will likely come in February or March.
9. Alexis Vila (8-0)
In front of a pro-Cuban crowd on Feb. 12 in Miami, Vila smashed out his ninth career win, putting away Lewis McKenzie in the second round under the Mixed Fighting Alliance banner. The question for the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist becomes a matter of when he steps into the cage with another Top 10 flyweight and faces the division’s best.
10. Fumihiro Kitahara (9-2-1)
Kitahara’s first bout against a true A-level flyweight did not go as he had hoped. The 2008 Shooto rookie champion took on former two-division Shooto world titleholder Mamoru Yamaguchi, who needed just over two minutes to put his shin on Kitahara’s head, leaving him flat on the mat.
Other contenders: Mitsuhisa Sunabe, John Dodson, Louis Gaudinot, Ulysses Gomez, Alexandre Pantoja.
With the entry of Ian McCall and Darrell Montague, Mitsuhisa Sunabe and John Dodson were knocked to the contenders list. Masaaki Sugawara exits the bubble list.