Ian McCall will try to remain numero uno against Will Campuzano on Dec. 2. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood
1. Ian McCall (11-2)
McCall was spectacular on Aug. 5, wresting the Tachi Palace Fights title from Darrell Montague. In his first defense on Dec. 2, he'll stake his throne against lanky puncher and fellow WEC veteran Will Campuzano.
2. Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6)
On July 18, Urushitani laid waste to former tormentor Yuki Shojo, as the Shooto world champion scored a brutal head kick knockout. The next move for Urushitani, however, remains unclear in the continuously changing flyweight landscape.
3. Jussier da Silva (12-1)
With Tachi Palace champ Ian McCall tied up until next year, da Silva remains in a holding pattern as he waits to avenge his lone career loss. In the meantime, the Natal, Brazil, native will attempt to defend his Shooto South American 123-pound title on Oct. 29 again the man he edged out for the strap in 2008, Michael William Costa.
4. Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3)
The 34-year-old flyweight star suffered a hit on Aug. 5, as he lost a sound unanimous decision to Brazilian standout Jussier da Silva. Fortunately for Yamaguchi, his fan-friendly nature and action-packed style will continue to secure him fights on both sides of the Pacific.
5. Darrell Montague (9-2)
Montague started fast in his first Tachi Palace Fights flyweight title defense, but he could not stand up to the pressure of challenger Ian McCall. Montague was forced to tap in the second frame, but the talented and dynamic 23-year-old still figures to play a formative role in the flyweight division going forward.
6. Shinichi "B.J." Kojima (11-4-5)
After two years on the shelf, the biggest question surrounding former flyweight ruler Kojima’s August was ring rust. The Reversal Gym Yokohama fighter looked to be in fine form, however, earning a hard-fought split decision over Masaaki Sugawara and setting up a Nov. 5 meeting with another world-ranked 125-pounder, Kiyotaka Shimizu.
7. Yuki Shojo (11-6-2)
Shojo got his chance at the Shooto world title, but he could not replicate his 2008 victory over Yasuhiro Urushitani. This time around, the Shooto world champion knocked Shojo flat with a crushing head kick, sending him to the figurative back of the line in Shooto's 123-pound division.
8. Kiyotaka Shimizu (10-5-2)
With a 9-1-1 record since 2009, Shimizu has quietly made a name for himself as one of Japan’s strongest and toughest 125-pounders. The reigning super flyweight King of Pancrase will head to the ring of Shooto once again on Nov. 5 for a showdown with former flyweight top-ranker “B.J,” Kojima.
9. Alexis Vila (10-0)
Known for years as one of the most exciting talents at 125 pounds, Vila made a major splash at bantamweight on Sept. 24 by becoming the first man to knock out gritty Bellator featherweight champ Joe Warren. The win secured the Cuban Olympian a spot in Bellator’s tournament semifinals, where he’ll take on Nova Uniao export Marcos Galvao on Oct. 22.
10. John Dodson (11-5)
Dodson is one of the slickest, most physically gifted fighters in MMA. However, like divisional compatriot Alexis Vila, he is currently focused on challenges at 135-pounds: The Greg Jackson-trained “Magician” is currently competing as a bantamweight on the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Other contenders: Louis Gaudinot, Fumihiro Kitahara, Alexandre Pantoja, Mitsuhisa Sunabe, Ryosuke Tanuma.