1. Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1)
Johnson proved why he is the cream of the flyweight crop on July 27, dominating an overmatched John Moraga in their Fox-televised title fight. Relentless takedowns and guard passing eventually set up a fifth-round armbar submission -- Johnson’s first finish in the Octagon and the latest stoppage in UFC history.
2. Joseph Benavidez (18-3)
Since losing a close five-round decision to Demetrious Johnson in September, Benavidez has done little to dispel the notion that he is the world’s No. 2 flyweight, taking consecutive victories over Ian McCall and Darren Uyenoyama in his next two outings. The Team Alpha Male member next faces submission whiz Jussier da Silva at UFC Fight Night 28 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Sept. 4; a win could secure Benavidez another shot at 125-pound gold.
3. Ian McCall (12-4-1)
It took four tries, but “Uncle Creepy” finally secured his first Octagon win at UFC 163. Good conditioning, leg kicks and fancy footwork carried McCall to a unanimous decision against Iliarde Santos in Rio de Janeiro and likely saved him from the Zuffa chopping block.
4. John Dodson (14-6)
Dodson showed flashes of the power that many felt could win him the UFC flyweight title, though he ultimately came up short on Jan. 26, falling to Demetrious Johnson in a five-round unanimous decision. The loss was Dodson’s first setback in the UFC; “The Magician” will attempt to get back on the winning track when he squares off with the recently signed Darrell Montague at UFC 166.
5. Jussier da Silva (15-2)
After suffering a second-round TKO to John Dodson in his Octagon debut, da Silva rebounded to capture a unanimous verdict against Chris Cariaso at UFC on FX 8. “Formiga” relied on takedowns and top control to impose his will in the bout’s first two rounds before surviving a final-frame surge from the resilient Cariaso. Da Silva gets a formidable challenge for his next Octagon appearance, as he locks horns with Team Alpha Male stalwart Joseph Benavidez on Sept. 4.
6. Darrell Montague (13-2)
Montague earned his fourth consecutive victory on May 18, submitting Jesse Miramontes with a first-round triangle choke at Submission Championship MMA 2. Long regarded as one of the top 125-pound talents not signed to a UFC contract, the Tachi Palace Fights veteran will finally make his Octagon debut when he locks horns with John Dodson on Oct. 19.
7. John Lineker (22-6)
Despite weighing in at 129 pounds, Lineker once again looked impressive on Aug. 3, as he punched out late replacement Jose Maria Tome in the second round of their UFC 163 encounter. That is three strong wins in a row for the former Jungle Fight champion, who could soon find himself fighting for a shinier belt if he can get his weight-cutting issues under control.
8. John Moraga (13-2)
Moraga was fast-tracked to title contention after stopping established flyweights Chris Cariaso and Ulysses Gomez in his first two Octagon appearances, but the step up proved too much. The Arizonan was thoroughly dominated by UFC champ Demetrious Johnson for 23 minutes on July 27 before tapping to a fifth-round armbar.
9. Will Campuzano (12-4)
Since his release from the UFC in 2011 as a bantamweight, Campuzano has won four in a row with two knockouts and one submission. The Texan’s only decision win came in the most recent defense of his Legacy Fighting Championship flyweight title, a gritty five-rounder over previously unbeaten Brazilian youngster Allan Nascimento on April 12.
10. Josh Sampo (9-2)
Sampo has made a name for himself in the past year by upsetting former big-show fighters. First it was Antonio Banuelos who had his Legacy Fighting Championship debut spoiled by “The Gremlin,” and then Bellator MMA vet Alexis Vila succumbed to a fifth-round guillotine choke from Sampo in their January title bout for Championship Fighting Alliance.