UFC Bantamweight rankings: A clash between #4 and #6 goes down on Saturday at UFC Vegas 44

ufc bantamweight rankings
Feb 2, 2019; Fortaleza, CE, Brazil; Jose Aldo (red gloves) vs. Renato Moicano (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Arena CFO. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC bantamweight division is maybe the strongest it has ever been. A case can be made that it has usurped the lightweight division as the deepest and most talent-rich in the sport. Deciding the 10 best is no easy task, but nevertheless, here are the official MixedMartialArts.com UFC bantamweight rankings top-10.

UFC bantamweight rankings

10. Marlon Vera (20-7-1)

Marlon Vera’s UFC run has not been without several setbacks, but The UItimate Fighter Latin America alum is starting to hit his stride as he finishes his seventh year in the promotion. He continues to get better, and scoring a knockout win over a future UFC Hall-of-Famer in Frankie Edgar at UFC 268 was a stamp on his arrival as a top-10 bantamweight in the world.

Next fight: Waiting for next booking

9. Dominick Cruz (23-3)

ufc bantamweight rankings
May 9, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Dominick Cruz (blue gloves) with Dana White (right) during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Former division king Dominick Cruz has only fought twice over the last four years. Splitting his matchups with former two-division champion Henry Cejudo and one-time LFA champion Casey Kenney. His fight IQ and unique style make him a hell of a challenge at 135-pounds even now. However, if he were to fall to Pedro Munhoz in December at UFC 269, it becomes a whole lot harder to make a case for his inclusion in the rankings.

Next fight: vs. Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269

8. Pedro Munhoz (19-6)

Pedro Munhoz has lost three of his last four, and on the surface that would seem unworthy of the eighth spot in our rankings. That is until you look closer at the details. His defeats came to the current champ, a competitive bout against a legend in Jose Aldo, and a split-decision loss in a fight many thought he won versus Edgar. It takes elite skill or some legit luck to beat “The Young Punisher” right now. In December, a win over the legendary Cruz would verify he is far better than he probably gets credit for.

Next fight: vs. Dominick Cruz at UFC 269

7. Merab Dvalishvili (14-4)

Merab Dvalishvili is the epitome of a wash, rinse, and repeat fighter. Everyone knows what’s coming and they still can’t stop this man. His five straight wins have proven he’s a legitimate force in the division, and his mix of wrestling and endless cardio is a serious problem for a whole bunch of top-10 bantamweights in the UFC. 2022 may be the year “The Machine” earns his first title fight.

Next fight: Waiting for next booking

6. Jose Aldo (30-7)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Aug 7, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Jose Aldo (red gloves) fights Pedro Munhoz (blue gloves) during UFC 265 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Like many in this field, I had my doubts that Jose Aldo could become a relevant name in the bantamweight division. It always seemed like the former featherweight king would be a perfect fit for lightweight. Yet here we are in 2021 and “Junior” might be a December win over Rob Font away from being in another title fight next year. And he is only 35. Never doubt “The King of Rio.”

Next fight: vs. Rob Font on December 4

5. Cory Sandhagen (14-4)

Many observers of the sport felt Cory Sandhagen was championship material heading into his July fight against TJ Dillashaw. Despite what some consider a controversial loss to the two-time champ, those same folks still thought “The Sandman” was deserving of a title fight. Well, as luck and injuries would have it the 29-year-old got that chance at UFC 267. Although he came up short against new interim champion Petr Yan, he still put forth a performance worthy of a spot in the rankings top-five.

Next fight: Waiting for next booking

4. Rob Font (19-4)

At 34, when most fighters start declining at this weight, Rob Font is becoming the best version of himself. He has seemingly hit a new peak in his skillset and is a very dangerous fighter hovering under the superstar’s radar. If he can beat Aldo in December and get the biggest win of his career as he earns a fifth straight victory in the Octagon, I don’t know how you try and explain the New England Cartel lieutenant not getting some sort of title fight next. Even if it is for some sort of title eliminator tournament interim belt.

Next fight: vs. Jose Aldo on December 4

3. TJ Dillashaw (17-4)

After two years away following his USADA suspension, two-time bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw showed he is still very much an elite 135-pounder by beating Sandhagen in an ultra-competitive fight in July. If not for a torn knee ligament suffered in his victory, Dillashaw could be competing for gold at UFC 267. However, he is instead recovering from his third major surgery in the last few years. In the end, father time and wear and tear may be the 35-year-olds biggest hurdle in staying relevant over the next few years.

Next fight: Waiting for next booking

2. Champion – Aljamain Sterling (20-3)

Aljamain Sterling is the only champion in any of our rankings that doesn’t hold the top spot. Since 2018, “Funkmaster” has been red hot and has looked outstanding at times. However, he won the championship in March by disqualification, in a fight he was badly losing in. And his inability to get back in the Octagon since, following neck surgery, has only strengthened doubters resolve in believing he is a paper champion. The New York needs to return with a vengeance in 2022 or his title reign will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Next fight: Waiting for next booking

1. Petr Yan (16-2)

Petr Yan has been the proverbial bull in a China shop during his three-year run in the UFC. His lone blemish will go down as an all-time bonehead moment when he was disqualified for an illegal knee in his UFC 259 title fight loss to Sterling. The American’s neck injury has made it impossible for “No Mercy” to right that wrong, but if he can beat a stellar talent in Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267, the stupidity of his March loss will start to be forgotten.

Next fight: Waiting for next booking