1. Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1)
“Mighty Mouse” has proven himself as the cream of the crop in the 125-pound division, besting all three of the fighters ranked directly below him. At “The Ultimate Fighter 18” Finale, Johnson will rematch Joseph Benavidez, the man he defeated to capture the promotion’s inaugural flyweight title at UFC 152. Considering their first meeting was a split verdict, another closely contested scrap is practically inevitable.
2. Joseph Benavidez (19-3)
Benavidez was completely dominant in dispatching Jussier da Silva at UFC Fight Night 28, overwhelming the Brazilian with punches and a knee to the body en route to a first-round stoppage. By posting victories over Ian McCall, Darren Uyenoyama and da Silva thus far in 2013, Benavidez built a strong case for another shot at current flyweight ruler Demetrious Johnson. He will receive that opportunity at the “TUF 18” Finale on Nov. 30.
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. A matchup with Scott Jorgensen at UFC on Fox 9 comes next.
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 (15-3)
Once thought to be the No. 1 flyweight in the world, “Formiga” has faced cruel reality since joining the UFC. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has suffered knockout losses in two of his three Octagon appearances, most recently falling to Joseph Benavidez inside of a round at UFC Fight Night 28. While losing to the likes of Benavidez and John Dodson is nothing to be ashamed of, a limited standup arsenal puts a cap on how far da Silva can go in the division.
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 next squares off with Phil Harris at UFC Fight Night 30. If he can get his weight-cut issues under control, bigger fights could be on the horizon.
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. Campuzano returns to action on Oct. 5, when he squares off with 59-fight veteran Hideo Tokoro at a Vale Tudo Japan event.
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.