1. Jose Aldo (25-1)Aldo maintained his stranglehold on the 145-pound division with a gritty, five-round unanimous decision against old rival Chad Mendes in the main event of UFC 179. “Scarface” persevered through knockdowns and takedowns, using superior technical striking down the stretch to earn his 18th consecutive victory. Still the first and only UFC featherweight champion, Aldo has now defended his title seven straight times against the likes of Mendes (twice), Frankie Edgar and Kenny Florian. He is expected to face Conor McGregor at UFC 189 on July 11.
2. Chad Mendes (17-2)Mendes continues to stake his claim as the best 145-pounder in the world outside of Jose Aldo. On April 4, “Money” used his lauded punching power to take out Ricardo Lamas -- a man who lasted five rounds with the champ -- in under three minutes. The only two losses on Mendes’ 19-fight record have come against Aldo; consequently, the Team Alpha Male believes that a third meeting with Aldo makes sense, though he will have to wait for the outcome of the Brazilian's forthcoming showdown with Conor McGregor.
3. Frankie Edgar (18-4-1)Edgar was simply brilliant in a dominating Nov. 22 performance against Cub Swanson, turning what most expected to be a competitive matchup into a lopsided, ground-and-pound beating. The former lightweight champion never took his foot off the gas, finishing Swanson via neck crank with only four seconds remaining in the fifth round. The victory was Edgar’s third straight at 145 pounds since losing a title bid against Jose Aldo. He will return to the cage on May 16, when he headlines a UFC Fight Night event against Urijah Faber in the Philippines.
4. Ricardo Lamas (15-4)Lamas rebounded from his lopsided loss to Jose Aldo with a pair of wins against Dennis Bermudez and Hacran Dias, earning “The Bully” a spot in a pivotal matchup with fellow contender Chad Mendes on April 4. Things did not go well for the Chicagoan, who was punched out by Mendes in the opening round, ending any immediate title hopes for Lamas. He now holds a 6-2 record in the division.
5. Conor McGregor (17-2)In less than two years, McGregor has run up a 5-0 record inside the Octagon while becoming the UFC’s most talked-about new fighter. The “Notorious” Irishman’s latest conquest was Dennis Siver, who fell to second-round punches in their Jan. 18 headlining attraction. McGregor has already begun a war of words with his next opponent, featherweight king Jose Aldo, with the pair penciled in to meet on July 11 in Las Vegas.
6. Max Holloway (12-3)Just two months after starting his 2015 campaign with a resounding victory against Cole Miller, Holloway scored the biggest win of his young career by submitting Cub Swanson on April 18. The 23-year-old Hawaiian controlled the bout from the start, using his active and diverse striking to freeze Swanson before slapping on a third-round guillotine choke. Since losing to Conor McGregor and Dennis Bermudez in 2013, Holloway has rattled off six consecutive wins, including three knockouts and two submissions.
7. Cub Swanson (21-6)Previously on the cusp of title contention, Swanson has tumbled down the rankings after suffering a pair of setbacks in the past five months. First, the 31-year-old was ground out and submitted by former lightweight ace Frankie Edgar in November, and on April 18, Swanson succumbed to a third-round guillotine choke from rising star Max Holloway. Prior to those losses, the Jackson-Wink MMA fighter had won six in a row.
8. Dennis Bermudez (14-4)After racking up seven straight wins against the likes of Clay Guida and Max Holloway, Bermudez saw his streak snapped at UFC 180. Former title challenger Ricardo Lamas proved too much for the New York native, as “The Bully” dropped Bermudez with a stiff jab and finished the fight with a first-round guillotine choke. Bermudez will return to the Octagon at UFC 189, where he will meet Jeremy Stephens on July 11.
9. Patricio Freire (23-2)Freire’s newly won Bellator title looked to be in jeopardy as “Pitbull” struggled in the early frames of his rematch with Daniel Straus on Jan. 16. However, the champion overcame low blows and eye pokes to battle back and force Straus to submit via fourth-round rear-naked choke. Freire has won six in a row, including four finishes, en route to becoming the top 145-pounder operating outside of the UFC.
10. Nik Lentz (25-6-2, 1 NC)After a hiccup against No. 1 contender Chad Mendes, Lentz returned to his winning ways at UFC Fight Night “Brown vs. Silva,” taking a unanimous verdict over Manny Gamburyan in Cincinnati. “The Carny” battered Gamburyan against the fence and landed several takedowns to clinch his fourth win in five featherweight outings. Lentz has not competed since May 2014, as multiple fights have fallen through for the American Top Team product, but he is slated to meet Charles Oliveira on May 30 in Brazil.
Other Contenders: Pat Curran, Hacran Dias, Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens, Daniel Weichel.
Continue Reading » Bantamweight