B/R Official Rankings for July: The Top 10 Featherweights in MMA

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIJuly 2, 2012

B/R Official Rankings for July: The Top 10 Featherweights in MMA

0 of 10

    June was a big month for the Featherweight division. No. 2 ranked Hatsu Hioki was in action, along with several top prospects like Yuri Alcantara, Ricardo Lamas and Hacran Dias.

    In addition, The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil crowned a featherweight winner, and TUF winner Ross Pearson took on Cub Swanson in a thrilling battle at UFC on FX 4.

    I won't spoil anything for you too soon, but there was a major shakeup this month and two new names entered the list. When new names come in, old names go out, so we waved goodbye to Charles Oliveira and Diego Nunes. Who took their place? 

    This is the Official Rankings of the Featherweight division for July of 2012.

    These rankings are the combined efforts of some of Bleacher Report MMA's best writers, as we continue to try and provide you with the best content on the web.

10. Cub Swanson

1 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 17-5

    Most Recent Fight: TKO win over Ross Pearson at UFC on FX 4

    Next Fight: TBA

    Previous Ranking: N/A

    People have talked about the potential of Cub Swanson for years. From his time in the WEC, fans have always picked up on Swanson having that special ineffable quality that makes him both beloved and feared.

    Utilizing some impressive striking, which included a stellar Capoeira kick that landed firmly on his opponent's neck, Swanson was able to finish the gritty Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson this month.

    The win was the second in a row for Swanson, as he defeated George Roop via TKO back in January on the undercard of UFC on FOX 2.

9. Dennis Siver

2 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 20-8

    Most Recent Fight: Decision win over Diego Nunes at UFC on Fuel 2

    Next Fight: vs Eddie Yagin at UFC 151 on September 1

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Dennis Siver is a dangerous kickboxer who can stand with the best of them. His abilities have led him to victory over Spencer Fisher, Matt Wiman and George Sotiropoulos. Interestingly enough, the UFC has selected an unranked opponent to meet Siver. 

    When the German fighter meets Eddie Yagin at UFC 151, he faces a steep challenge that many would overlook. Yagin outstruck Mark Hominick at UFC 145, so it will be interesting to see if he can fare as well against "The Menace."

    Siver was a ranked lightweight until he ran into Donald Cerrone last Fall. After the fight, he dropped to Featherweight and earned a unanimous decision victory against Top 10 fighter Diego Nunes.

8. Hatsu Hioki

3 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 26-5-2

    Most Recent Fight: Decision loss to Ricardo Lamas at UFC on FX 4

    Next Fight: TBA

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Hatsu Hioki may have blown the greatest opportunity that he will ever receive. After his destructive performance against Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144, Dana White thought that the time was right for Hioki to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship. 

    Respectfully, Hioki felt differently. Although his performance was stellar at UFC 144, he hadn't shaken off the memory of his lackluster showing against George Roop at UFC 137. Instead of fighting for the gold, Hioki asked for one more fight to help him get ready for such a challenge.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Hioki was paired up with Ricardo Lamas, an 11-2 fighter with eight fights under the Zuffa banner. Lamas was able to survive a scary first round and outwork Hioki in the final frames to score an enormous upset victory.

    Hioki tumbles from title contention and falls all the way to No. 8 this month.

7. Ricardo Lamas

4 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 12-2

    Most Recent Fight: Decision win over Hatsu Hioki at UFC on FX 4

    Next Fight: TBA

    Previous Ranking: N/A

    Ricardo Lamas seized a golden opportunity in June when he faced No. 2 Featherweight Hatsu Hioki. Expected to be little more than a stepping stone, Lamas made the most of his opportunity by displaying his impressive grappling skills and shutting down several takedowns from the Japanese star en route to a unanimous decision win.

    Lamas has now gone 3-0 since dropping to Featherweight, and he also has a win over No. 10-ranked Cub Swanson. With momentum like that, it's going to be hard to stop Lamas from fighting another top name in his next bout.

6. Dustin Poirier

5 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 12-2

    Most Recent Fight: Submission loss to the Korean Zombie at UFC on Fuel 3

    Next Fight: TBA

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Dustin Poirier wasn't looking past the Korean Zombie, but he could certainly taste the title shot that loomed in the distance if he was successful. Unfortunately, that's not how the cards fell. "Diamond" ran into the best incarnation of Zombie that we've ever seen, and he was stopped in the fourth round.

    Since dropping to Featherweight, Poirier had gone 4-0 before meeting the Korean Zombie. The submission loss sends him back to the drawing board, though. Perhaps a fight with Ross Pearson or Diego Nunes would do him some good.

    Poirier is an exciting fighter to watch, so fans should stay tuned to see who he draws for his next battle.

5. Erik Koch

6 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 13-1

    Most Recent Fight: Decision win over Jonathan Brookins at UFC Fight Night 25

    Next Fight: TBA

    Previous Ranking: 6

    The lord giveth and the lord taketh away. The lord in this situation is UFC President Dana White. When UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo needed a contender for UFC 149, White tapped Erik Koch for the coveted spot.

    Koch was elated to receive the opportunity. At 13-1, with four straight wins behind him, Koch knew that he was in the running after Hatsu Hioki turned the fight down.

    When Aldo was injured and removed from UFC 149, it appeared that Koch's shot at the belt disappeared. 

    Koch has wins over Jonathan Brookins and Raphael Assuncao to his credit since joining the UFC roster. He has been out of action since September and is currently awaiting a new opponent.

4. Pat Curran

7 of 10

    Promotion: Bellator

    Record: 17-4

    Most Recent Fight: KO win over Joe Warren at Bellator 60

    Next Fight: vs Patricio Freire at Bellator 73 on August 24

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Pat Curran won the Bellator Featherweight championship in spectacular fashion at Bellator 60.

    Curran is the only fighter in Bellator history to win tournaments in multiple weight classes. The 2010 Lightweight tournament led Curran to an unsuccessful bid at Eddie Alvarez and his Lightweight championship.

    Using the 2011 Summer Series as a platform to earn his crack at the Featherweight championship, Curran didn't let a golden opportunity slip by him again. Watch the video above to see his incredible knockout win over Joe Warren.

    Curran has a dangerous challenger in front of him next month. If he can make it through Patricio Pitbull, it will be interesting to see who Bellator finds to keep him active.

3. Chan Sung Jung

8 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 13-3

    Most Recent Fight: Submission win over Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fuel 3

    Next Fight: TBA

    Previous Ranking: 5

    The Korean Zombie is a highlight machine. When he debuted in the WEC, he did so in a Fight of the Year performance against Leonard Garcia. His next fight would live on highlight reels as well, but not in the way he would like to remember.

    His sophomore performance saw the Korean Zombie eat the 2010 KO of the Year in the form of a head kick from George Roop. Unfortunately for Jung, this would be his last appearance before the WEC shut its doors. Thankfully, he was popular enough that the UFC decided to keep his contract.

    Since joining the big leagues, the Zombie is undefeated, going 3-0 in thrilling performances. He started things off with the first-ever Twister submission in UFC history. He followed it up with the fastest knockout in UFC history (at the time) against Mark Hominick. 

    In his most recent performance, Jung turned in a candidate for 2012 Fight of the Year against Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fuel 3. The fight saw the most impressive version of the Zombie to date, as he submitted the tough-as-nails Poirier in the fourth round.

    As the top-ranked featherweight who has yet to battle the champion, it is expected that the Korean Zombie will challenge for the belt when Aldo returns from injury.

2. Chad Mendes

9 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 11-1

    Most Recent Fight: KO loss to Jose Aldo at UFC 142

    Next Fight: vs Cody McKenzie at UFC 148 on July 7

    Previous Ranking: 3

    When Chad Mendes cashed in his UFC title shot at UFC 142, his gameplan was clear: Get the fight to the ground and grind the will out of champion Jose Aldo.  

    Unfortunately, this gameplan made Mendes predictable and allowed Aldo score a beautiful interceptor knee that knocked the challenger out with only one second left in the first round.

    The loss is the only black spot on the career of Team Alpha Male's top featherweight. He will attempt to bounce back against Cody McKenzie at UFC 148 this weekend. If he can avoid the dreaded McKenzietine, Mendes should give the Ultimate Fighter alum a long night that he won't want to remember.

1. Jose Aldo

10 of 10

    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 21-1

    Most Recent Fight: KO win over Chad Mendes at UFC 142

    Next Fight: TBA

    Previous Ranking: 1

    What can be said about Jose Aldo that hasn't been said time and time again? With a background in both Black House and Nova Uniao, the top featherweight in the world can be found near the top of every pound-for-pound list in the business.

    Aldo has defended his belt five times since taking it from Mike Brown in 2009 and he has defeated everyone from Kenny Florian to Urijah Faber along the way. 

    After knocking out the undefeated Chad Mendes in the first round at UFC 142, it looks as if Aldo might actually be unbeatable at 145 pounds. 

    When he returns from injury, there is no certainty to who his opponent will be. Maybe Erik Koch will still get his crack at the title. Perhaps the Korean Zombie has moved in on the title shot. If Frankie Edgar loses at UFC 151, he might take up Dana White on the offer to get an immediate shot at Featherweight gold.

    In any situation, one thing is for sure: When Jose Aldo enters the Octagon, the world had better be ready for something magical.