LowKick.com Staff Mixed Martial Arts Rankings for February 2012Posted on February 29, 2012, 06:39 PM by Anton Gurevich
LowKick.com Community Rankings are still under construction, and will be re-opened in the near future. LowKick.com Staff Pound-for-Pound rankings will be posted tomorrow.
Ranked by Anton Gurevich.
1. Junior dos Santos
Cigano’s amazing journey inside the Octagon continued with an impressive victory over Cain Velasquez at UFC’s debut on FOX. The Brazilian victimized Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin en route to dethroning Cain Velasquez. There’s no doubt about JDS being the #1 Heavyweight on the planet, and one of the best fighters currently competing in Mixed Martial Arts.
2. Alistair Overeem
Current #1 contender for the UFC Heavyweight title may not have Junior dos Santos’ resume of Top 10 victories, but he definitely paid his dues as a fighter with a. Over-reim (correct Dutch pronunciation) proved critics wrong with demolition of the former champion Brock Lesnar, earning himself a shot at Junior dos Santos’ belt this year. The Reem’s brutal kickboxing style will come in handy against JDS, with sights on setting up a long reign of terror in the UFC Heavyweight division.
3. Frank Mir
Looks like many people forget Frank Mir is one of the “original” UFC Heavyweights, coming from the era of Andrei Arlovski, Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, and Fedor Emelianenko as the #1 Heavyweight on the planet. Mir managed to stay on top thanks to his methodical approach to Mixed Martial Arts, and the ability to evolve as a fighter. Frank Mir is currently on a three-fight winning streak (Cro Cop, Nelson, Big Nog) and will face Cain Velasquez next. Victory over Cain Velasquez will solidify Frank Mir’s status as one of the greatest Heavyweights in MMA history, with a shot at the winner of Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem.
4. Cain Velasquez
Velasquez’s year-long absence didn’t do him any favors. Former UFC Heavyweight Champ was unable to regain his previous form, and was viciously knocked out by Junior dos Santos in just 62 seconds. Velasquez is now on a collision course with Frank Mir, who was able to get himself on a three-fight winning streak during the A.K.A. product’s time on the sidelines.
5. Fabricio Werdum
Vai Cavalo the first man to defeat Fedor Emelianenko, followed by a quite controversial performance against Alistair Overeem. Werdum removed any doubts around his legitimacy as Top 5 Heavyweight with an absolute destruction of Roy Nelson at UFC 143. Stefan Struve is most likely to be Fabricio Werdum’s next opponent inside the Octagon.
6. Josh Barnett
The Warmaster didn’t lose a fight since the 2006 PRIDE Shockwave encounter with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Yet, failed drug tests combined with lack of activity and Top 10 opponents continue to keep Josh Barnett out of Top 5 Heavyweight rankings. Victory over Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce Heavyweight GP Finale will catapult Josh Barnett into Top 5.
7. Daniel Cormier
The way Daniel Cormier fought against Antonio Silva showed he’s a Top 5 material. But that’s for the future. As for today, Cormier is still a relatively young MMA competitor. Victories over Jeff Monson and Antonio Silva unveiled and improved version of Daniel Cormier, and it’s pretty obvious that DC will continue to develop as a fighter. Josh Barnett is a huge test for Cormier. It will be interesting to see Cormier dealing with Barnett’s so-called “MMA I.Q.”, and the ability to play into his opponent’s weaknesses.
8. Shane Carwin
Former Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin will return later this year, looking to bounce back from two consecutive defeats inside the Octagon. The Engineer is still a force to be reckoned with in the UFC Heavyweight division, with a demonic knockout power and great wrestling abilities that could put him back on the title shot map. It will be interesting to see Shane Carwin in a fight against someone like Cheick Kongo, both need a victory, and stylistically – Kongo is a perfect return fight for the man who knows very little about going to distance.
9. Antonio Silva
Silva did what he does best against Fedor Emelianenko, but the fight against Cormier once again exposed Bigfoot’s weaknesses. Victory over Cormier could have been a great follow-up for “Bigfoot” Silva’s victory over Fedor, but the A.K.A. product had plans of his own. Silva is an interesting match-up for many of the UFC’s Heavyweights. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments he made to his game, and how he deals with the top-tier experience of the UFC Heavyweights.
10. Mike Russow
There are many fighters who can occupy the #10 spot, but I think Mike Russow is the most deserving. Russow is on a four-fight winning streak in the UFC, two of them via KO/TKO. Russow is incredibly tough to finish and shows improvements with his every fight. I would love to see a fight with Stefan Struve (who could have easily made it into #10 spot in my rankings) or Mark Hunt for an entrance into the title shot mix (the expanded version of it) of the UFC’s 205+ division.
Ranked by Joey Santosus.
1. Jon Jones
Widely credited with turning in the most successful year in mixed martial arts history, "Bones" kicked-off 2011 by submitting the previously undefeated Ryan Bader. Three consecutive victories later, Jones had captured and defended the Light Heavyweight strap against a trio of former Champions. The Jackson's MMA fighter will look to make it four straight when he meets former friend turned nemesis, Rashad Evans, at UFC 145.
2. Rashad Evans
Though long layoffs and untimely injuries have plagued the once-beaten former champ, Evans returned with a vengeance in August, and has since scored back-to-back victories over Phil Davis and Tito Ortiz. With his place as number-one contender now reaffirmed, the stage has been set for his long awaited grudge match with "Bones," a former friend and Jackson's MMA training partner.
3. Dan Henderson
At the age of 41, Dan Henderson has shown no signs of slowing down. During his short tenure in Strikeforce, "Hendo" terrorized the Light Heavyweight division, knocking-out Renato Sobral and Rafael Cavalcante to capture the promotion's 205-pound strap. After making a quick detour at Heavyweight to defeat Fedor Emelianenko, Henderson returned to the UFC in November, battling to a decision victory against "Shogun" Rua in an instant classic.
4. Mauricio Rua
With sights set on recapturing the gold, "Shogun" bounced back from his defeat against Jon Jones by scoring a stunning first-round knockout victory over Forrest Griffin in August. His momentum has temporarily been halted, however, after coming up short on the scorecards against Dan Henderson at UFC 139.
5. Lyoto Machida
Despite being 2-3 in his last five outings, "The Dragon's" resume reads impressively nonetheless. Victories over Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans, and Tito Ortiz ushered in the "Machida Era," even if subsequent defeats against "Shogun" and "Rampage" Jackson spelled its untimely ending. The Brazilian has gone 1-1 since, but there's little shame in losing to Jon Jones.
6. Phil Davis
"Mr. Wonderful's" first year with the UFC was a busy one. In 13-months, Davis won five-straight, including victories over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson to prove he was ready to take a step up in competition - or so it seemed. Returning from a ten-month layoff, the Alliance MMA fighter suffered the first defeat of his career, a five-round unanimous decision loss courtesy of Rashad Evans.
7. Ryan Bader
Following an impressive rise, which saw Bader win five straight inside the octagon, consecutive losses against Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz sent "Darth" tumbling back down the Light Heavyweight latter. Determined to erase the bitter taste of defeat, however the TUF 8 winner has managed to scratch and claw his way back into the mix, knocking out Jason Brilz in November before smothering "Rampage" Jackson in Japan.
8. Quinton Jackson
On a mission to get "his" belt back, back-to-back victories over Matt Hamill and Lyoto Machida earned "Rampage" the opportunity to do just that. Unfortunately, Jon Jones had other plans. With talks of retirement now becoming the norm from Jackson, and a second consecutive defeat at the hands of Ryan Bader in Japan, another title run seems unlikely.
9. Alexander Gustafsson
Quietly climbing the Light Heavyweight ranks, "The Mauler" put the division on notice with a first-round knockout victory over respected veteran Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 141. The win marked his fifth inside the octagon, all of which have come within the distance, and earned him a main event slot opposite Antonio Rogerio Nogueria at UFC on Fuel TV 2.
10. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
After extending his winning streak to seven with back-to-back victories inside the octagon, Nogueira suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in his professional career. Undeterred, the Brazilian returned with a rib-crushing performance against Tito Ortiz to get back in the win-column, and he'll look to build on that momentum when he meets Alexander Gustafsson in April.
Ranked by Trent Reinsmith.
1. Anderson Silva
I know, I’ll wait for you to recover from the shock that “the Spider” is number one at 185. Despite the fact that he has not fought since defeating Yushin Okami in August of last year, Silva remains the benchmark for the modern day MMA fighter. There is simply no one in the sport that does it better or makes it look easier than Anderson Silva.
2. Chael Sonnen
Some will say that Sonnen gets by strictly on his mouth and his knack for self-promotion, an argument that is far from reality. If that was true someone like Jason Miller would be fighting for the title, and he is not. Sonnen may get noticed more for his remarks than for his talent, but once you see him fight, you’ll realize that Sonnen is a very talented individual inside the Octagon. He’s not the flashiest fighter and his not so dominant win over Michael Bisping may have some doubting his abilities, but I would say none of those doubters are his potential opponents.
3. Mark Munoz
A skilled wrestler with the ability to lay on his patented “Donkey Kong” ground and pound assault when he takes top position. Munoz has only two losses in his MMA career and has beaten Demain Maia and Chris Leben in his last two bouts. Had he not been injured he would have faced Chael Sonnen recently and that fight would have been a great gauge as to just how high Munoz’s upside is. As it stands he needs a top-level test, but he is still a pretty solid number three in the Middleweight division.
4. Vitor Belfort
Vitor Belfort is one of the most confident fighters in this division, truly believing that he deserves another shot at Anderson Silva’s Middleweight crown. He’s one of the most brutal strikers/finishers in the division, but he’s been at the game a long time, making his debut back in 1996. Despite being only 34 years old, there is a lot of wear on the body of Belfort and he may be entering the twilight of his career.
5. Michael Bisping
Like Chael Sonnen, Bisping seems to get more attention for his mouth than for his skills, but anyone that doubts that he can fight should go back and watch his bout with Sonnen at UFC on FOX 2. Bisping hung in there with Sonnen and despite losing; the fight was by no means a blowout. Bisping may not have added any fans on that night, but he did pick up some respect that he may have been missing out on.
6. Luke Rockhold
Luke Rockhold is kind of a forgotten man in the Middleweight division, putting up a career record of 9-1 and running up a eight fight-winning streak. He was a heavy underdog to Jacare Souza when they met in September 2011, but when the horn sounded he had Souza’s Strikeforce Middleweight belt wrapped around his waist. Rockhold went on to defend that title against Keith Jardine in early January. Rockhold needs a test to see where he truly stands at 185, hopefully that test will come from Tim Kennedy.
7. Brian Stann
Brian Stann was on a brief tear in the UFC, stopping Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago in impressive fashion before being thrown to the wolf that is Chael Sonnen. Sonnen showed that while Stann is an impressive enough striker he needs work on his wrestling game.
8. Demain Maia
Demian Maia is a master at the submission game, but much to his detriment (and ranking) he has been much more interested in showing that he has a striking game as of late. It is true that his striking game has progressed, but he would be much better off if he used the striking to set up his ground game. As it stands now, he seems to only want to strike, which is a huge mistake.
9. Yushin Okami
Yushin Okami has four losses in his UFC career, falling to Rich Franklin, Chael Sonnen, Anderson Silva and most recently Tim Boetsch. His most recent victories have come over Nate Marquardt and Mark Munoz. Okami is a solid fighter, but at this point it looks like he may be heading toward gatekeeper status.
10. Hector Lombard
This one was a struggle as there were a handful of fighters that could have gone in this slot, but in the end I had to give it to the Bellator Champion. An argument can be made that Lombard has not faced top-level competition during his 31-2 MMA career, but with his last loss being a 2006 defeat at the hands of Gegard Mousasi, he gets the nod here for his long and consistent winning streak.
Ranked by Mike Drahota.
1. Georges St. Pierre
The champion has fallen under a lot of criticism lately for his lack of finishing fights, and some say that he plays it safe on purpose. But the reality is that GSP has not lost a fight since his upset loss to Matt Serra, since dominating all of those put in his path. It will remain to be seen how GSP can recover from a debilitating injury such as an ACL tear, but he is the champ and will remain so until beaten.
2. Carlos Condit
Hot on the heels of a very controversial decision win over Nick Diaz, Condit finds himself in the driver’s seat, with the option to defend the interim belt or wait for the champion. While a rematch with Diaz seemed to be in the cards, we may not see Condit again until late this year due to Diaz’s failed drug test.
3. Nick Diaz
Diaz failed his UFC 143 drug test earlier this month, and it is unknown how long he will be suspended for. He may not ever enter an MMA cage again, hinting at retirement after the fight. Regardless, he possesses some of the best boxing, cardio, and toughness in all of MMA, and he is still near the top of the heap should he ever choose to return.
4. Josh Koscheck
Koscheck has put together a successful couple of years, his only recent blemish being a lopsided decision loss to GSP in late 2010. The Edinboro University wrestling product remains a strong and viable contender heading into his bout with Johny Hendricks on May 5. He will seek to avenge the KO loss of his good friend Jon Fitch.
5. Jake Ellenberger
Ellenberger is riding high with a 6-fight win streak and currently seeks a title shot, however many wonder if he has truly earned it in a top-heavy division. He did look excellent in the first two rounds of his decision victory over Diego Sanchez, but many pundits thought he would have lost had the fight lasted two more rounds. Either way, expect Ellenberger to have a high-profile opponent soon.
6. Johny Hendricks
Hendricks, who is known for his top-level wrestling pedigree, has shot up the rankings after knocking out perennial second-fiddle Jon Fitch in a mere twelve seconds. He will fight Koscheck on May 5 at UFC on Fox 3, and will get very close to a title shot with a win.
7. Jon Fitch
Fitch spent years as a fighter who could only be beaten by GSP in the Welterweight division. While a win may have gained him a rematch with his rival, his knockout loss to Hendricks puts him in tough shape with a ladder to climb. Fitch still has the skills to contend, but his safe style seems to have hurt him as of late.
8. Mike Pierce
Pierce has shown a lot of tenacity in fighting some of the best at 170 lbs. Stylistically, no one seems to hold a decided advantage over him, and he lost only by the closest of margins to Koscheck and Hendricks.
9. Rory MacDonald
Though out with injury for a while now, he will return to the octagon against Che Mills. Had he stayed healthy all last year, there is a good chance that he would rate much higher on this list. At 22, the sky’s the limit for this young prospect.
10. Martin Kampmann
In a spot that could be arguably taken by many fighters in the division, Kampmann earns the ranking for his tenacity and heart. His controversial losses to Shields and Sanchez could have easily gone the other way. After defeating Rick Story, it will be quite the make-or-break year for Martin Kampmann.
Ranked by Daniel Cassidy.
1. Ben Henderson
Despite coming into UFC 144 as the underdog, Benson Henderson proved a solid bet and that he shouldn't be underestimated, when he snatched the Lightweight title from Frankie Edgar. Cold hard facts are cold hard facts, and it's hard to argue against the new UFC Lightweight Champion's ranking as the number one 155’er. Currently 4-0 in the UFC, he could be faced up with the last man to beat him, Anthony Pettis, in his first title defense later this year.
2. Frankie Edgar
Despite stumbling in his latest title defense, it's hard to take too much away from Frankie Edgar following his 3 successful title defenses before his loss this weekend. Despite the loss, Edgar showed flashes of brilliance that brought him to the front of the LW scene. In a match that could really have went either way, Edgar's stock won't drop too much, given he holds a win over number 3 ranked Gray Maynard. Should he remain in the division instead of a possible drop to 145, expect him to earn another title shot soon.
3. Gray Maynard
Finishing 2010 strongly, Gray Maynard entered 2011 as the only fighter to hold a win over current Champ Frankie Edgar. Coming into last year, Maynard would rematch Edgar on New Year’s Eve; despite a strong early showing, that saw him smash on Edgar for the full duration of a round, before earning only a draw by the time the fight ended. The two would lock horns again in October. History looked like it could repeat itself, with Maynard coming close to finishing his opponent early, but let his guard down and was TKO'd in the process in his sole loss. Prior to this the Xtreme Couture fighter was undefeated, racking up wins over the likes of Roger Huerta, Nate Diaz and Kenny Florian.
4. Gilbert Melendez
Overlooked by many due to him being a non UFC fighter, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez has as impressive a record as any on this list. Undefeated since a 2008 loss to Josh Thomson (later avenged), Melendez has looked impressive, causing many to call for a Lightweight unification bout. Holding high profile wins over Japanese superstars Shinya Aoiki and Tatsuya Kawajiri, as well as wins over Clay Guida and Josh Thomson. At least in my opinion, Melendez can't be ranked any higher until he faces UFC level opponents.
5. Jim Miller
Quite hard to logically place Jim Miller any lower, it's worth noting that his only 3 losses are to the current champ and two number one contenders. Despite these losses, Miller is 10-2 in The Octagon. The BJJ black belt holds notable wins over Kamal Shalarous, Melvin Guillard and Charles Oliveira. Were it not for his loss to Ben Henderson, Miller would be fighting against Edgar for the Lightweight title this weekend. His next fight is scheduled to be against Nate Diaz, in a bout that could decide the next challenger.
6. Nate Diaz
The very definition of perennial contender applies to Nate Diaz and his time as a Lightweight. Losing two of his biggest fights in relation to a potential title fight, Diaz lost to Clay Guida and Gray Maynard by razor thin split decisions that really could have gone either way. Holding wins over some of the divisions best in Melvin Guillard, Takanori Gomi and most recently Donald Cerrone, Diaz finds a way to maintain his status in the top ten when it matters. Fighting Jim Miller in May will give a clear indication of his standing as a Lightweight.
7. Clay Guida
Clay Guida comes into this list as somewhat of a mixed bag, but his recent results speak for themselves, and he notably continues to grow as a fighter. Holding a highly respectable UFC record of 9-6. His losses, as well as several of his wins, include some of the promotion's most exciting fights. Last year saw his 4 fight win streak hit the skids when he came up against Ben Henderson. Despite this, he does deserve his Top 10 status, and will look to get back into the title hunt in his rumored upcoming fight against Gray Maynard.
8. Anthony "Showtime" Pettis
The last ever WEC Lightweight Champion, Anthony Pettis gained critical acclaim in December 2010 when he caused an upset in defeating Ben Henderson, in a thrilling war that saw Pettis immortalized with "The Showtime Kick". Coming into the UFC, he suffered disappointment with a loss to Clay Guida, but quickly returned to the win column with a victory over Sam Stout, followed up by this weekend highlight reel KO of Joe Lauzon. With Henderson the current champ, a rematch could be in the works that could see him take the top spot.
9. Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone
Despite losing to Nate Diaz in December, a loss that ended an almost two year winning streak, Cerrone is still highly regarded at 155 pounds. Since joining The UFC in February, Cerrone would rack up 4 straight wins before stumbling against Diaz in his fifth fight of the year. Holding wins over respected opponents such as Dennis Siver, Jamie Varner and Rob McCollough, Cerrone fights Yves Edwards on May 15th in an attempt to get back to the higher leagues of the division.
10. Michael Chandler
Coming into last year as a relative unknown, Chandler shocked the world with his wins in Bellator's Lightweight tournament, defeating Patricky Freire in the final to earn a title shot against Champ Eddie Alvarez, formerly ranked number 4.Despite his status as a heavy underdog, Chandler held his own against the champ in the early rounds before rocking him in the fourth, leading to a stoppage win via rear naked choke. His next bout and first title defense will give us a clear idea of just how good Chandler is.
Ranked by Daniel Cassidy.
1. Jose Aldo
Pound for Pound stalwart Jose Aldo currently holds the UFC's coveted 145 pound belt. Coming off of two somewhat unconvincing unanimous decision wins over Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian, Aldo had a lot to prove coming into his bout against the #1 contender Chad Mendes. Silencing the critics with a devastating performance and highlight reel KO, Aldo once again proved he is the worlds top Featherweight this past January.
2. Hatsu Hioki
Brought into the UFC as a highly touted contender for Jose Aldo's belt, Hioki stumbled somewhat in a very narrow and hotly contested split decision win over George Roop. This past weekend saw his second fight for Zuffa against Bart Palaszewski, where he cemented his status as a title contender, man handling and punishing "Bartimus" for the full three rounds. He also holds notable wins over Marlon Sandro, and Mark Hominick x2.
3. Pat Curran
Finishing 2010 as strongly as a lightweight, Curran reached the finals of Bellator's 155lb tournament, before losing a close but unanimous decision to then Champion Eddie Alvarez. Making the drop to 145 saw Curran look even better; reaching the FW tournament finals with two consecutive wins, before stepping in against Marlon Sandro, then ranked number 2 in the world. Heavy underdog Curran proved his worth by surviving an early onslaught before capitalizing on a gassed Sandro in the second round, finishing him via head kick TKO.
4. Chad "Money" Mendes
Team Alpha Male standout Mendes quickly rose through the ranks in the UFC's Featherweight division, racking up 5 straight wins to earn a title shot against Jose Aldo. Despite the first round loss, his stock hasn't dropped too much, especially when the fact it is his sole loss is taken into consideration. He holds wins over Michihiro Omigawa, Rani Yahya and Javier Vasquez.
5. Marlon Sandro
Signing for Bellator last year, Sandro was touted as one of the top FW's in the world. Racking up two straight wins under Bellator, Sandro found himself in the FW tournament final, facing off against Pat Curran. Despite a strong early showing, Curran delivered the upset with a well-timed head kick. Sandro still remains a legitimate threat in his weight class, and recovered from the loss to Curran with a decisive victory over Rafael Dias to get back into the win column.
6. Kenny Florian
This is the hardest ranking for me, given Florian's career is currently on hiatus due to a back injury. Despite this, Florian had a somewhat successful time at 145 pounds, defeating highly touted Diego Nunés before going to decision against the Champ Aldo. Should he fight at 145 again, he has the potential to beat some of the division’s best.
7. Diego Nunés
At 17-2, Nunés is hard to ignore. Well rounded in all areas, his only two losses have come to Kenny Florian and a very close split decision against LC Davis. Following the Florian loss up with a win over former title challenger Manny Gamburyan, Nunés next fight will give a better idea of his real standing at 145 pounds. He holds impressive wins over Mike Thomas Brown, Rafael Dias and Raphael Assuncao.
8. Dustin Poirier
At 12-1, Poirier is one of the toughest and most durable fighters on the list. Losing just a single WEC fight, he made the move to FW shortly after and is currently 4-0 since then. Set to fight the always entertaining Jung Chan-Sung in May in a possible title fight eliminator, "The Diamond" holds wins over Pablo Garza and Josh Grispi.
9. "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung
Consistently ranked just outside the top ten, "The Korean Zombie" twice came in as the underdog and upset his opponents. Most notably, he took on Mark Hominick, defeating him in just under ten seconds, doing what the Champion Jose Aldo couldn't. He also holds notable wins over Leonard Garcia and Michihiro Omigawa.
10. Erik Koch
13-1 Erik Koch rose through the FW ranks quickly despite his promotional debut loss to Chad Mendes. Since then Koch is 4-0, most notably defeating TUF winner Jonathan Brookins. He holds two Knockout of the Night bonuses, although is without an opponent since pulling out of a fight against Dustin Poirier due to injury.
Ranked by Evan Holober.
1. Dominick Cruz
UFC Bantamweight champion, check. Defeat the only man to hold a "W" over you in the octagon, check. Have some of the best wrestling in MMA, check. Avoid 3/4's of the strikes thrown at you, check. Dominick is the best BW in the world at the moment. Next.
2. Urijah Faber
Faber has been a perennial top fighter at 145 lbs and below for what seems like a decade now. He still possesses some of the best wrestling, and scrambling ability in MMA. He's finished over 80% of his career opponents, and he is the only person to hold a win against the current best bantamweight in the world. Faber gets his chance to break the tie he and Cruz have with each other at UFC 148.
3. Renan Barao
In the middle of 2010 Renan was an unknown quantity entering the WEC with a gaudy record achieved mostly in Brazil. Fast-forward to the present, and wins over Pickett and Jorgensen have him next in line to face the Faber vs. Cruz winner. A huge 135er with a great mixture of jiu-jitsu and striking; Barao will be a tough task for whoever enters the cage across from him. Be it Cruz, Faber, or another top contender.
4. Brian Bowles
Brian is a former champ that was once the Cinderella story of 2009 after knocking then dominant champion Miguel Torres out at WEC 142. He's had some set backs in recent years losing by tko after badly breaking his hand against Cruz in what would have been his first defense, and getting guillotined by Faber after reeling off two straight. Bowles is still a rough night for anybody in the division with good wrestling, and dynamite for a right hand. He has no next opponent set.
5. Miguel Torres
Once the marquee name in the WEC Bantamweight division, Torres is a combination of technical striking with great jiu-jitsu. Wrestlers have been his kryptonite, as losses to Bowles, Benavidez, and Johnson showed. However, he continues to improve and got back on the right track with a win over Nick Pace last November.
6. Scott Jorgensen
Another strong wrestler/grappler in the mold of Urijah and Brian, "Young guns" is a well-rounded beast of bantamweight. A five fight win streak had him lined up for a title shot last year, but he fell short to Cruz. He was bested by "Barao" in his most recent outing, but will no doubt be looking to get back in the cage as soon as possible.
7. Brad Pickett
"One Punch" is a banger, as his name would have you believe. However, he is also getting more well-rounded as his career progresses. Wins over Ivan Menjivar and Demetrious Johnson highlight the banger's resume, and his only losses in the big league's are to former title challenger Jorgensen and the surging "Barao".
8. Ivan Menjivar
Not so many people know that Ivan Menjivar was Georges St. Pierre's first professional MMA fight. Ten years later, a veteran of Canada's great MMA scene, Menjivar has been in the game now for over ten years. He took a hiatus from 2006-2010, but is 4-1 since making his return. The "Pride of El Salvador" has fought as high as 170 lbs in his career, but has settled nicely at 135.
9. Michael McDonald
Another young beast who started competing before his 18th birthday, McDonald is part of the new era in MMA. Equally good on his feet as he is on the ground, Michael could out you in a flying armbar just as easily as knock you unconscious. He takes a big step up in competition next though, as he takes on the former champion Torres at UFC 145.
10. Eduardo Dantas
The only non-UFC fighter on this list, Eduardo Dantas is more than worthy of being here. He made it through the murderer's row of fighters that was the second bantamweight season tournament of Bellator, and now gets to face Zach Makovsky for the title. The two are set to face off April 13th.