1. Demetrious Johnson (20-2-1)The dynamic king of the flyweights defended his throne yet again at UFC 174, this time with a dominant five-round performance against Ali Bagautinov. In less than two years, the UFC’s 125-pound champion has all but cleaned out his division, notching victories over John Dodson, Ian McCall and Joseph Benavidez (twice). With top contender Dodson sidelined, Johnson will next face unheralded Chris Cariaso in the co-main event of UFC 177.
2. Joseph Benavidez (20-4)Benavidez showed no ill-effects from a December knockout loss to Demetrious Johnson, as he submitted Tim Elliott with a guillotine choke in the opening frame of their UFC 172 bout. Outside of a pair of losses to “Mighty Mouse,” Benavidez has done nothing to hurt his status as one of the world’s three best flyweights. However, Johnson will probably have to relinquish his belt before Benavidez receives another shot at 125-pound gold.
3. John Dodson (16-6)“The Magician” pulled another trick from his bag on June 7, this time using a high knee to explode John Moraga’s nose and force a doctor stoppage after two rounds. The victory and timing made the Jackson-Wink MMA product a perfect choice for champ Demetrious Johnson’s next challenger -- until Dodson suffered an ACL injury which will keep him out of action until 2015.
4. Ian McCall (13-4-1)Fighting for the first time in nearly a year, “Uncle Creepy” made it clear he is still one of the world’s top 125-pounders. In his July 19 bout with fellow bantamweight contender Brad Pickett, McCall’s fast hands and footwork paid dividends against his larger opponent, carrying the Californian to a unanimous decision.
5. Ali Bagautinov (13-3)Bagautinov’s 11-fight winning streak came to a screeching halt when the “Puncher King” ran up against divisional kingpin Demetrious Johnson at UFC 174. The two-time world combat sambo champion never really got going in his 25-minute encounter with “Mighty Mouse,” who used blistering speed and knees in the clinch to shut down Bagautinov at every turn. Bagautinov has since been suspended for a positive drug test.
6. Zach Makovsky (18-4)Not much was expected of former Bellator MMA champion 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 Josh Sampo in consecutive outings, “Fun Size” looks like a serious contender in the UFC’s flyweight division. Makovsky will attempt to continue his ascent through the division when he squares off with Jussier da Silva at UFC 176.
7. John Lineker (24-7)Lineker’s weight problems appear to be a thing of the past, as the Brazilian has now made the 126-pound flyweight limit for two consecutive bouts. Now, “Hands of Stone” can finally be discussed as a legitimate title contender, especially after his rousing third-round stoppage of Alptekin Ozkilic on June 16.
8. Jussier da Silva (16-3)It was not without controversy, but “Formiga” captured a much-needed victory over Scott Jorgensen at UFC Fight Night “Shogun vs. Henderson 2” in March. Taking advantage of an incidental head butt, da Silva scrambled to Jorgensen’s back to win via rear-naked choke in the opening frame in front of an appreciative Brazilian audience. Next up: a date with Zach Makovsky at UFC 176.
9. John Moraga (14-3)After winning seven straight fights on his way to a UFC title shot, Moraga has dropped two of his last three. However, those defeats have come against the cream of the flyweight crop: the Phoenix native took reigning champ Demetrious Johnson into the fifth round before submitting to an armbar and most recently suffered a fight-ending nose injury in his June 7 rematch with John Dodson.
10. Kyoji Horiguchi (13-1)Horiguchi has looked nothing short of phenomenal in his first two Octagon outings. The 23-year-old Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto protege punched out Dustin Pague in his UFC debut in October and then showed a well-rounded game in his sophomore showing, using a mixture of blinding hand speed and strong takedowns to outpoint Darrell Montague in May.
Other Contenders: Chris Cariaso, Tim Elliott, Dustin Ortiz, Patrick Holohan, Justin Scoggins.
Continue Reading » Women’s Bantamweight