The Bantamweight division is awash in
talent and the UFC, with their recent acquisition of the WEC, has a monopoly on
it. Let’s look at the Top 5
Bantamweights in the world, two of which will fight for the championship in UFC 132.
5.) Demetrious Johnson (10-1) – At 5’3” tall, the self-proclaimed Mighty Mouse is a rather apt nickname. His only loss came as a result of that height disadvantage when the taller cage veteran Brad Pickett continued to take Johnson to the mat and ultimately won by unanimous decision. Aside from that, there’s been nothing to complain about.
The 24 year old wrestler has been steadily improving, winning his last four matches over some very tough hombres. On May 28th, 2011 Johnson scored his most impressive victory to date with a unanimous decision over former bantamweight champ Miguel Torres. Johnson will undoubtedly hear his name called to fight for the title if he continues to notch victories.
4.) Brian Bowles (9-1) – The very fact
that Brian Bowles is ranked 4th on this list, illustrates how
talented this division truly is. Bowles
has 9 victories to his credit and has either submitted or KO’ed each and every
one. Bowles is primarily a wrestler but
test him standing up and you could very well find yourself flat on your
He has two submission victories
over Damacio Page (both were by guillotine choke and amazingly at exactly the
same time, 3:30 of the 1st round), a submission over talented Will
Ribeiro and his most impressive victory to date, a knockout over Miguel Torres
to win the WEC Bantamweight title. His
only crime was breaking his hand in his first and only title defense to current
champ Dominick Cruz. The doctor ordered
a stoppage and Bowles’ reign came to an abrupt end. Bowles will be back, count on it.
3.) Joseph Benavidez (14-2) – Benavidez’s only two losses came courtesy of current champ, Dominick Cruz. In August of ’09 he lost a unanimous decision and a year later, got another bite at the apple only this time the bantamweight championship was on the line. In a heart breaking loss, Benavidez lost a split decision to the champ and now has to wait his turn until some of the other talented fighters get an opportunity at Cruz.
Benavidez has an impressive submission game as evidenced by his victories via guillotine choke over talented bantamweights Wagnney Fabiano and Miguel Torres. The skilled southpaw will be one of the first names mentioned to fight for the championship if and when Cruz loses the belt.
2.) Urijah Faber (25-4) – Urijah Faber is the former WEC Featherweight king but consecutive losses to Mike Brown and then to current featherweight champ Jose Aldo made him rethink his career. At age 32, he realizes his best shot at wearing a belt may just be in the lighter bantamweight division.
Faber is an explosive fighter who was strong at 145 and will be an absolute beast at 135 pounds. He has two bantamweight fights under his belt, a submission victory over Takeya Mizugaki and a unanimous decision over former WEC champ Eddie Wineland, and has become an immediate force to be reckoned with in his new division.
As murderous as his right hand can be, the mat is where he lives and breathes. He put current bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz to sleep with a lethal guillotine choke (when they were both fighting as featherweights) and looks for a replay of that fight when they meet at "UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber" in July.
1.) Dominick Cruz (17-1) – It would be difficult to put anyone above the UFC champion. He wears the strap around his waist for a reason and has earned the right to be named the best fighter at 135. With only one blemish on his record, a loss by guillotine choke to Urijah Faber when both were fighting as featherweights, he has taken "stick and move" to a new level.
His footwork is spellbinding and his mat game is as good as any. If there is a hole in his game, it is his inability to tap opponents out. He has only one submission in 17 victories but he is like a floating phantom when fighting on his feet. Frustrating his opponents with his uncanny speed and elusiveness, Dominick Cruz is the cream of a very rich crop.
Bantamweight Champoinship Fight
While Dominick Cruz has proven himself against most of the guys on this list, he is yet to defeat Urijah Faber. As they prepare to meet in UFC 132, UFC betting odds are currently giveing Cruz the slight advantage over the aging Faber. Our UFC betting picks have been on fire lately, and we are calling Faber to upset the order of this list. Who do you think will top the UFC's Bantamweight division?