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B/R Official Rankings for September: The Top 10 Bantamweights in MMA

Sean SmithAnalyst IJune 24, 2016

B/R Official Rankings for September: The Top 10 Bantamweights in MMA

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    With no highly-ranked UFC bantamweights scheduled to fight, August was supposed to be a quiet month for the bantamweight division, and it was until the final week.

    As Bellator's bantamweight champion, Eduardo Dantas felt he wasn't competing frequently enough and decided to take a fight outside of the organization. Though it was a bout he was expected to win easily, Dantas got caught by Tyson Nam in the first round and suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

    Dantas' championship is now somewhat tainted, and that's something Bellator officials will be none too pleased with as the promotion gets ready to enter a new era on Spike TV. 

    On the bright side, at least Bellator's bantamweight champion is able to remain active, which can't be said for the UFC's 135-pound kingpin, Dominick Cruz. Due to a Cruz knee injury, the UFC awarded an interim title to Renan Barao after a victory over Urijah Faber. Though it appears Barao will opt to await Cruz's return before putting his interim belt on the line.

    As the division pushes through some rough times, let's take a look at the 10 best bantamweights in the world.

Contributors

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    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. For the latest MMA news and freshest MMA opinions, follow them on Twitter:

    Andrew Saunders    @Saundersmma

    Hunter Homistek    @HunterAHomistek

    Joe Chacon    @JoeChacon

    Matt Juul    @MattJuulMMA

    Riley Kontek    @RileyKontek

    Scott Harris    @ScottHarrisMMA

    Sean Smith    @SeanSmithMMA

    Tim McTiernan    @TimMcTiernan

    Vince Carey    @vcareymma

10. Bibiano Fernandes

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    Promotion: One FC

    Record: 12-3

    Most Recent Fight: Won against Gustavo Falciroli at One FC 5

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: 10

     

    Former Dream champion Bibiano Fernandes was reportedly offered a UFC fight in June, but the Brazilian later denied rumors that he had been signed by the organization and ended up working a deal with One FC.

    Fernandes made his One FC debut on the final day of August and picked up a decision victory against Falciroli. The 32-year-old has now won 11 of his past 12 bouts and will try to become the face of what he hopes will become the first stable Asian MMA organization since Pride.

9. Scott Jorgensen

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 13-6

    Most Recent Fight: Lost against Eddie Wineland at UFC on FX 3

    Next Fight: John Albert at UFC on Fox 5

    Previous Ranking: 8

     

    For the first time in his career, Scott Jorgensen has lost two consecutive fights. Considering those losses came against elite bantamweights in Wineland and Renan Barao, Jorgensen is hoping his current losing streak is a product of stiff competition rather than a sign he is beginning to fade already at 29 years old.

    With a step down in competition, Jorgensen will have a chance to right his path against Albert. Should Jorgensen suffer a third straight defeat in that matchup, though, his UFC career could be in danger.

8. Mike Easton

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 13-1

    Most Recent Fight: Won against Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: N/A

     

    Mike Easton continued his tear toward a bantamweight title shot in July, when he picked up a decision win over veteran Ivan Menjivar. While somewhat uneventful, the fight pushed Easton closer to the top of the 135-pound division and likely ensured him a fight with a bantamweight contender in his next appearance.

    Easton has now won eight straight fights and isn't showing any signs of slowing. With a strong team behind him at Alliance MMA, Easton appears to be improving slightly every time he steps into the cage.

7. Brad Pickett

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 21-6

    Most Recent Fight: Won against Damacio Page at UFC on Fuel TV 2

    Next Fight: Yves Jabouin at UFC on Fuel TV 5

    Previous Ranking: 9

     

    Brad Pickett has alternated wins and losses over the course of his past five fights, but he will have a chance to break that pattern with a second straight victory in late September, when he will meet Page at UFC on Fuel TV 2.

    In April, Pickett earned Fight of the Night honors with a second-round submission of Damacio Page. The Englishman also earned a victory over Ivan Menjivar prior to a submission loss of his own against now-interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao.

6. Eddie Wineland

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 19-8-1

    Most Recent Fight: Won against Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FX 3

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: 6

     

    After losing his first two UFC fights to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, Eddie Wineland bounced back with authority against Scott Jorgensen, scoring a brutal knockout late in the second round.

    With the win, the former WEC bantamweight champion returned to title contention. However, he'll have some proving to do before he can earn a fight with the likes of a Dominick Cruz or Renan Barao, as both champions were able to defeat Faber where Wineland wasn't.

5. Brian Bowles

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 10-2

    Most Recent Fight: Lost against Urijah Faber at UFC 139

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: 5

     

    The only losses of Brian Bowles' career have come against great champions Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz. However, with decisive losses against those opponents, it is going to be difficult for the 32-year-old to earn another title shot at bantamweight.

    Bowles hasn't competed in the nearly 10 months that have passed since his loss to Faber. No news of his next opponent has surfaced, so could it be that Bowles is preparing for a move to a new division in hopes of getting a fresh start? 

    There have no reports from his camp that this is the case, but it would seem a potentially logical move for a fighter in Bowles' situation.

4. Michael McDonald

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 15-1

    Most Recent Fight: Won against Miguel Torres at UFC 145

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: 4

     

    Michael McDonald transformed from prospect to legitimate contender with his first-round knockout of Miguel Torres in April, but the 21-year-old is still awaiting news on his next opponent.

    One would think McDonald is nearly ready for a title shot, but bantamweight titleholders Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao appear unavailable for competition until they meet one another in 2013. That could mean a bout between McDonald and Mike Easton to determine the 135-pound division's next top contender.   

3. Urijah Faber

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 26-6

    Most Recent Fight: Lost against Renan Barao at UFC 149

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: 3

     

    Following his loss to Renan Barao, Urijah Faber has now come up short in five straight title defenses. Nobody is counting "The California Kid" out of another potential title shot before he retires, as he was competitive against Barao and Dominick Cruz in his most recent title fights. However, the prospects of Faber actually winning a UFC title are starting to look bleak.

2. Renan Barao

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 29-1, 1 NC

    Most Recent Fight: Won against Urijah Faber at UFC 149

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: 2

     

    It took Renan Barao only four appearances inside the Octagon to earn a UFC belt. However, he already has his eyes set on a different belt—the one around Dominick Cruz's waist. The interim champion appears to content to sit and wait for Cruz's return from knee injury.

    Barao is undefeated since his MMA debut in April 2005, picking up 29 straight victories since then. The 25-year-old training partner of featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo is already considered the best bantamweight in the world by some.

1. Dominick Cruz

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 19-1

    Most Recent Fight: Won against Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Versus 6

    Next Fight: TBD

    Previous Ranking: 1

     

    It doesn't really seem like it's been that long since Dominick Cruz last fought until one realizes his last bout was contested on Versus, predating the UFC's historic debut on the Fox network. It has been 11 months since Cruz picked up a fourth straight bantamweight title defense with a decision against Demetrious Johnson.

    An unfortunate knee injury during taping of The Ultimate Fighter spoiled a rubber match between Cruz and Urijah Faber, but it looks like Cruz will now have to prepare for an equally intriguing bout against interim champion Renan Barao.

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