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1. Alexander Volkanovski (21-1)Volkanovski became the fourth featherweight champion in promotion history with a masterful performance against Max Holloway at UFC 245 in Las Vegas. The City Kickboxing representative kept his opponent at bay with a steady diet of leg kicks and as a result, never allowed Holloway to land with his usual volume. Volkanovski’s eight-fight winning streak includes triumphs over two of the greatest 145-pound talents ever in Holloway and Jose Aldo, and it appears that the 31-year-old Aussie is only getting better with time.
2. Max Holloway (21-5)Holloway could never get going at UFC 245, losing a unanimous decision and his featherweight title to Alexander Volkanovski in the evening’s co-main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Holloway picked up the pace in the championship rounds, but it wasn’t enough to prevent him from losing his first featherweight bout since August 2013. “Blessed” has lost two of his last three promotional outings when you include his decision loss to Dustin Poirier in an interim lightweight title bout at UFC 236. Still just 28 years old, there’s plenty of time for Holloway to make another championship run.
3. Brian Ortega (14-1)Ortega was plenty game, but he was ultimately overwhelmed by the cumulative damage inflicted by featherweight champion Max Holloway in the UFC 231 headliner. “T-City” was ruled unable to come out before the fifth round and with that, his undefeated record was no more. Although Ortega hit Holloway with some solid shots in the third frame, the contest was dominated by the Hawaiian’s relentless offense. Ortega was supposed to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon against Chan Sung Jung in the UFC Fight Night 165 headliner, but he was forced to withdraw from the bout due to a knee injury. The good news is that Ortega will not require surgery, making a return in the first half of 2020 a possibility.
4. Jose Aldo (28-6)Aldo didn’t show any negative effects from the cut to 135 pounds, as he moved well and attacked throughout his bout against Marlon Moraes at UFC 245. Unfortunately for the Nova Uniao standout, he dropped a somewhat contentious split decision in his bantamweight debut. Despite the defeat, Aldo caught the eye of reigning 135-pound champ Henry Cejudo. As a result, Aldo will face the Olympic gold medalist in a title bout at UFC 250 in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 9.
5. Yair Rodriguez (12-2, 1 NC)Rodriguez had high expectations fighting on home soil, but his UFC Mexico City headlining matchup with Jeremy Stephens ended in just 15 seconds when “El Pantera” connected with an accidental eye poke. It was hardly the ending Rodriguez anticipated coming off a “Knockout of the Year” finish against Chan Sung Jung in November 2018, but but he was able to settle the score with Stephens in their rematch at UFC on ESPN 6 in Boston, as he rode a multi-faceted kicking attack to a unanimous decision victory on Oct. 18. “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” Season 1 winner has lost just one of his 10 Octagon appearances.
6. Chan Sung Jung (16-5)Jung may have ushered Frankie Edgar out of the featherweight division for good at UFC Fight Night 165. Competing in front of a raucous crowd in Busan, South Korea, “The Korean Zombie” rattled Edgar with punches from the outset, took his foe’s back and then sealed the deal with a powerful combination at the 3:18 mark of Round 1. Since his heartbreaking last-second defeat against Yair Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night 139, Jung has scored consecutive first-round finishes of Edgar and Renato Carneiro in 2019 to force his way into the featherweight title picture.
7. Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1)Magomedsharipov earned his sixth straight Octagon triumph at UFC Fight Night 163, as he outpointed fellow contender Calvin Kattar in Moscow. The Dagestani fighter slowed down the stretch against Kattar in the impromptu three-round headliner, but he had already banked the first two rounds on the scorecards. The Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu product owns a 14-fight professional winning streak dating back to 2013 and has emerged as one of the top contenders in the UFC at 145 pounds.
8. Patricio Freire (30-4)Bellator’s reigning lightweight and featherweight champion has consistently been one of the top fighters in the California-based promotion for nearly a decade now. The younger “Pitbull” brother extended his current winning streak to five when he took a clear-cut five-round verdict over Juan Archuleta in the opening round of the featherweight grand prix at Bellator 228. The 32-year-old Brazilian was supposed to face SBG Ireland product Pedro Carvalho in the quarterfinals of the bracket at Bellator 241, but that event was canceled due to coronavirus concerns.
9. Renato Carneiro (14-3-1)Carneiro had a successful lightweight debut, submitting Damir Hadzovic in 44 seconds at UFC Fight Night 170 in Brasilia, Brazil. In victory, “Moicano” rebounded from a tough 2019 in which he suffered back-to-back TKO defeats at the hands of Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung. Still, the 30-year-old had a largely successful UFC run at featherweight, compiling a 5-3 mark with wins over the likes of Jeremy Stephens, Calvin Kattar and Cub Swanson.
10. Frankie Edgar (22-8-1)Edgar’s willingness to take a short-notice fight will forever endear him to promotion brass, but his gamble didn’t pay off at UFC Fight Night 165, where he was overwhelmed in a first-round TKO loss to Chan Sung Jung in Busan, South Korea. Not only did “The Answer” lose his second straight bout in the Octagon, but he absorbed enough punishment to nix his previously scheduled bantamweight debut against Cory Sandhagen on Jan. 25. Edgar has one fight left on his current UFC deal, and he recently revealed that he still expects to compete at 135 pounds when he makes his Octagon return.
Other Contenders: Calvin Kattar, Shane Burgos, Jeremy Stephens, Josh Emmett, A.J. McKee.
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