1. Dominick Cruz (19-1)
After UFC 149, Dominick Cruz theoretically knows the next man he’ll face in newly-minted interim champ Renan Barao. However, Cruz’s own personal road is less clear, as he’s still months away from training, nevermind starting a fight camp, creating questions as to whether Barao will defend his interim strap before tangling with Cruz.
2. Renan Barao (29-1, 1 NC)
At UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, Renan Barao became the latest Brazilian -- and the latest fighter under the Nova Uniao banner – to capture a UFC title with a 25-minute domination of Urijah Faber. Now, the question is whether Barao will defend the interim bantamweight title, or simply bide his time until real champion Dominick Cruz returns to action.
3. Urijah Faber (26-6)
In his fourth challenge for a Zuffa title, Urijah Faber was defeated once again. The former WEC featherweight champ was bested by the leg kick assault of Renan Barao over 25 minutes in Calgary, Alberta, and walked away empty-handed once again at UFC 149.
4. Brian Bowles (10-2)
Bowles suffered his first submission loss on Nov. 19 by way of Urijah Faber guillotine choke, and with it was dealt his first setback in the Octagon after wins over Takeya Mizugaki and Damacio Page. For now, the 31-year-old from Georgia moves down a rung in the ever-deepening UFC bantamweight division and takes a step back from a potential rematch with the man who took his WEC title, Dominick Cruz.
5. Michael McDonald (15-1)
It seems the sky’s the limit for the 21-year-old from Northern California, whose latest feat was a first-round drubbing of former divisional ruler Miguel Torres. The win extended McDonald’s current winning streak to eight in a row -- five of those by way of knockout -- and thrust the youngster firmly into the logjam atop the division.
6. Brad Pickett (21-6)
Last November, Brad Pickett’s return to fight in his native Britain for the first time in two years went disastrously, as upstart Brazilian Renan Barao ran roughshod over him. “One Punch” is looking to rectify his rep in his homeland and he’ll have the chance come Sept. 29 when he meets Yves Jabouin at the UFC on Fuel TV 5 in Nottingham, England.
7. Eduardo Dantas (14-2)
Dantas might be Bellator’s precocious bantamweight champion, but the 23-year-old Nova Uniao prodigy isn’t one to rest on his laurels. “Dudu” is jumping back into action at Shooto Brazil’s BOPE benefit fight show on Aug. 25, where he will meet Oregon-trained Hawaiian Tyson Nam in a fun 135-pound contest.
8. Eddie Wineland (19-8-1)
Eddie Wineland’s first two Octagon spots were tough, debuting against Urijah Faber and following with Joseph Benavidez. However, the third time was the charm for the Indiana native, as he put his fearsome punching power on brutal display on June 8 against Scott Jorgensen, turning in a spectacular second-round stoppage and halting his two-fight skid.
9. Scott Jorgensen (13-6)
After passing his first two UFC assignments, “Young Guns” has hit a rough patch. After dropping a unanimous verdict to Renan Barao in February, Jorgensen took a nasty nap in the second round against Eddie Wineland on June 8, losing consecutive bouts for the first time in his career.
10. Miguel Torres (40-5)
While Miguel Torres’ outside-of-the-cage battles stemming from his now-infamous “rape van” tweet were difficult, they couldn’t possibly stack up to the unenviable outcome of his UFC 145 bout with hot prospect Michael McDonald. Torres, who was knocked out in grim fashion in the first round, is 3-4 in his last seven bouts after losing just once in his previous 37 outings.
Other contenders:Raphael Assuncao, Bibiano Fernandes, Marcos Galvao, Zach Makovsky, Mike Easton.
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