1. Demetrious Johnson (19-2-1)When Johnson bested Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152 for the promotion’s inaugural flyweight strap, it was a closely contested split decision in favor of “Mighty Mouse.” In their rematch at UFC on Fox 9, Johnson removed all doubt as to who is the division’s undisputed king with a first-round knockout victory. Since he first captured 125-pound gold in September 2012, Johnson has defended his title three times in increasingly impressive fashion.
2. Joseph Benavidez (19-4)While more than a few pundits might have foretold another loss for Benavidez in his rematch with Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Fox 9, virtually no one saw the Team Alpha Male product going down via first-round knockout. Despite the disappointing setback, Benavidez enjoyed a successful 2013, as he earned triumphs over Ian McCall, Darren Uyenoyama and Jussier da Silva prior to falling short against “Mighty Mouse.” A UFC 172 clash with Tim Elliott is rumored to be next for Benavidez.
3. John Dodson (15-6)After failing in his bid for the flyweight title against Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Fox 6, “The Magician” showed there would be no post-title shot hangover. Showcasing the numbing power that has made him one of the division’s top contenders, Dodson floored Darrell Montague twice en route to a dominant first-round stoppage at UFC 166. A knee injury forced the Jackson’s MMA product out of a UFC on Fox 9 clash with Scott Jorgensen.
4. Ali Bagautinov (13-2)Bagautinov relied on takedowns and ground-pound to carry him past fellow flyweight contender John Lineker at UFC 169. The sambo specialist also displayed his fair share of grit in absorbing a series of the Brazilian’s trademark body blows in the second round. With three straight 125-pound triumphs, “The Puncher King” provides the division with a fresh face among the usual batch of contenders.
5. 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. Injury woes have plagued McCall lately, forcing him out of a UFC on Fox 9 bout against Scott Jorgensen and, more recently, a UFC Fight Night 38 matchup with Brad Pickett.
6. Zach Makovsky (18-4)Not much was expected of Makovsky when he stepped in on short notice to face Scott Jorgensen at UFC on Fox 9 in December. Now, after toppling both Jorgensen and Joshua Sampo in consecutive outings, “Fun Size” looks like a serious contender in the UFC’s flyweight division.
7. Jussier da Silva (15-3)Once thought to be the No. 1 flyweight in the world, “Formiga” has faced a 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. Silva returns to action against Scott Jorgensen at UFC Fight Night 39.
8. John Lineker (23-7)Making weight was just one problem for John Lineker at UFC 169. Ali Bagautinov was the other. While “Hands of Stone” eventually checked in at 126 pounds for his flyweight bout with the “Puncher King,” he had no answer for the takedowns of the two-time combat sambo world champion, who grounded Lineker repeatedly en route to taking a unanimous verdict.
9. John Moraga (14-2)Moraga earned his eighth victory in nine appearances at UFC Fight Night 35, taking a contentious split decision over Dustin Ortiz. It did not come easily for the former No. 1 contender, as he had to rally back from a rough first round to post his third Octagon win.
10. Darrell Montague (13-2)Prior to signing with the UFC, Montague was largely recognized as one of the top flyweights in the world for his work outside the Las Vegas-based promotion. At UFC 166, “The Mongoose” learned what it meant to face the Octagon’s elite, as he suffered a first-round TKO loss to John Dodson in Houston. Montague is set to square off with Japanese prospect Kyoji Horiguchi in Cincinnati on May 10.
Other Contenders: Will Campuzano, Chris Cariaso, Tim Elliott, Josh Sampo, Louis Smolka.
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