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 scheduled 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 (19-4-1)Edgar continued to make his case for another UFC title shot on May 16, when he topped former featherweight ruler Urijah Faber in a five-round unanimous decision. Since coming up short in his bid to dethrone Jose Aldo in 2013, “The Answer” has won four straight bouts, including a third triumph over B.J. Penn in July and a dominant November victory against Cub Swanson.
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 is engaged in 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. He will carry that momentum into an Aug. 23 engagement with Charles Oliveira.
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. Charles Oliveira (20-4, 1 NC)It took four years for Oliveira to get in the cage with Nik Lentz for a second time, but when they met on May 30, “Charles do Bronx” made it count. The Brazilian tapped Lentz with a sensational third-round guillotine choke, the fifth different submission Oliveira has used in his last six wins. The 25-year-old Jorge Patino protégé is currently riding a four-fight winning streak. Oliveira will step back into the Octagon on Aug. 23, when he collides with Max Holloway atop a UFC Fight Night bill.
9. Patricio Freire (24-2)Freire got off to a slow start in his Bellator title defense against Daniel Weichel on June 19, but when the “Pitbull” came alive, his challenger did not last long. The Brazilian uncorked a beauty of a left hook to knock out Weichel and win his seventh consecutive outing, marking his third straight victory in a title bout. Freire’s next challenger remains undecided, though it appears a third bout with former titleholder Daniel Straus could be on the cards.
10. 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.
Other Contenders: Pat Curran, Hacran Dias, Nik Lentz, Jeremy Stephens, Daniel Weichel.
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