Top 10 Bantamweight Rankings

nullUFC 132 established who the top bantamweight in the world is.

The rankings haven’t changed too much in the last few months, but here is the latest top 10 in the 135-pound division.

1. Dominick Cruz (18-1) – Cruz (AP Photo) avenged his only loss in the division by taking a decision win over Urijah Faber. Cruz controlled the style and pacing of the fight and landed a lot more strikes. The bout was close, but Faber didn’t show me much to think he deserved to get the title.

2. Urijah Faber (25-5) – Faber gave Cruz the toughest fight he has to date in the division. He landed a few big punches and avoided the takedowns of Cruz. Faber proved he still has something left in the tank, but he needs to make some adjustments to beat Cruz. It will be interesting to see who is next for “The California Kid.”

3. Joseph Benavidez (14-2) – Benavidez has been relatively quiet as of late as he hasn’t fought since UFC 128, but he will take on Eddie Wineland at UFC Live 5. Benavidez has been in a tough spot as his teammate, Faber, has been contending for the title. Benavidez now has a chance to get back into the spotlight, but he needs an impressive showing.

4. Brian Bowles (10-1) – Bowles has earned a rematch for his title as he has two solid wins since coming back from his injury. Bowles lost to Cruz because of a broken hand, not because he was clearly beaten by the champion, so there is some question as to what he could do against Cruz. Given the way he lost the title, I think he deserves the next shot at it.

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Who should get the next shot at Dominick Cruz?

nullAs always, after a champion defends his title, the question is always: who is next?

Dominick Cruz won a very close decision over Urijah Faber at UFC 132, but the fight was close enough to warrant Faber some discussion of an immediate rematch.

But, if not Faber next, then who deserves the shot?

Here is a look at four possible candidates.

1. Urijah Faber – Faber gave Cruz the toughest fight he has had at bantamweight, even tougher than his teammate Joseph Benavidez. Faber has the quickness to match Cruz, but he still wasn’t able to force Cruz out of his style. He was out-struck and to a degree, out-wrestled. It is hard to see Faber winning without a KO against Cruz. Faber has also lost his last four title fights and one has to wonder if he deserves an immediate rematch with a 4-4 record in his last eight fights.

2. Brian Bowles – Bowles is 10-1 in his career with his lone loss coming against Cruz after 10 minutes. Bowles wasn’t stopped by Cruz, he simply broke his hand. Bowles was getting beat at that point in the fight, but still, it wasn’t decisive. Bowles had a year off after the loss to Cruz due to the injury, but he has bounced back with two-straight wins. Considering the way he lost the belt, he probably deserves some strong consideration for a rematch with Cruz.

3. Demetrious Johnson – Johnson has won four straight fights in the division, including wins over “Kid” Yamamoto and Miguel Torres. The small and scrappy wrestler may struggle with the movement of Cruz, but he appears to have some athleticism to maybe pose a challenge to the champion.

4. Brad Pickett – Picket is the lone loss for Johnson, but he has been largely inactive due to injuries. He lost a tough decision to Scott Jorgensen last August, but rebounded with a win over Ivan Menjivar. Pickett is a scrapper that has some good hands and good wrestling. Pickett would certainly bring the fight to Cruz, but he hasn’t been in the public eye much and has actually yet to fight in the UFC.

  

Top 10 Bantamweight Rankings

nullAfter weeks of rankings, we have finally reached the bantamweights.

The 135-pound division is strong from top to bottom and filled with exciting fighters.

Here is a look at my top 10 bantamweights in MMA.

(If you need to go back and find my pound-for-pound, heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, or featherweight rankings, click on the links)

1. Dominick Cruz (17-1) – Cruz gets my top spot as he is the UFC champion and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Cruz’ style has been very tough for his opponents to figure out as he is constantly on the move. His striking is crisp and his wrestling goes very unrecognized and is really what allowed him to beat the likes of Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen.

2. Joseph Benavidez (14-2) – Benavidez could arguably be a flyweight but he still excels at 135 pounds. His explosive wrestling and striking have allowed him to beat the best in the division and a pair of decision losses to Cruz are the only black marks on his record. Benavidez is somewhat stuck in the shadows of teammate, Urijah Faber, who will get the next title fight and perhaps leave Benavidez without a place to go in the division.

3. Brian Bowles (9-1) – There is still a lot to be discovered with the former WEC champion. His lone loss was against Cruz, where he suffered a broken hand that stopped the fight. Bowles has big power and some good chokes. He gets Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 132, which should be a good test to see if he is ready to make another run at the title.

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