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Joseph Benavidez and the 10 Best Fighters Under 145 Pounds

Scott HarrisFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 15, 2016

Joseph Benavidez and the 10 Best Fighters Under 145 Pounds

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    The world is just not a very kind place for the little guy.

    This summer, dynamic flyweights Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson had the spotlight to themselves. At UFC 152, set to take place Sept. 22, the two would fight for the chance to become the UFC's first champion at 125 pounds. It would be the main event of the evening. And these two men thought they would live forever.

    But the heavy jackboots of fate, as they so often do, had other marching orders. As quickly as UFC 151 went up in smoke, Benavidez and Johnson, just as quickly, found themselves dwarfed by one of the most controversial—if not competitive—co-mains in recent memory.

    But I, for one, would like to think I'm the type who sticks up for the little guy. This is especially true when the little guy in question could probably kill me or any one of my enemies three different ways before any of us realized we were under attack. That's probably why I'm more excited for the flyweight title bout this Saturday than I am for Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort.

    But where do Johnson and Benavidez rank among the best fighters under 145 pounds? Read on to find out. For this ranking, we're covering men only. 

10. Eddie Wineland

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    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 19-8-1

    Eddie Wineland's gritty triumph over Scott Jorgensen, combined with recent losses from guys like Bellator's Eduardo Dantas, lands the long-time UFC stalwart on this list. 

9. Brian Bowles

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    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 10-2 

    Every time I think about Brian Bowles, I picture his face in place of Ray Liotta's in the last scene of Goodfellas, where he's outside in his bathrobe complaining that he can't find any decent macaroni in his new hometown.

    But seriously, I'm not entirely sure why Bowles went into hiding. As has been well-documented, his last fight (a loss to Urijah Faber) was almost a year ago, and in the intervening time, there has been nary a word mentioned of his status.

    Such a state of affairs leaves me wistful for Bowles and his finish-hunting ways. Would you tune in to watch him fight Scott Jorgensen? I know I would. 

8. Ian McCall

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    Division: Flyweight
    Record: 11-3-1

    It wasn't long ago that Ian McCall was considered the world's best flyweight. But it seems that way sometimes.

    Legal troubles away from the cage and a June loss to Demetrious Johnson combined to ice the Uncle Creepy hype, at least for the time being.  

7. Jussier Da Silva

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    Division: Flyweight
    Record: 14-1

    "Formiga" is Portugese for ant. Jussier "Formiga" Da Silva isn't your run-of-the-mill ant, though. He's, like, one of them leaf cutter ones.

    Fans are rightly intrigued to see whether the Shooto champ, experienced but still only 27, can successfully take his talents to the Octagon. He debuts there on October 5, against another insect: former TUF gadfly John Dodson.

6. Michael McDonald

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    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 15-1

    It's a testament to the 21-year-old's talent and popularity that his name appeared on comment threads and discussion boards as a potential opponent for Renan Barao in a new main event for UFC 153.

    A great matchup? Hell yes. Will it happen anytime soon? Hell no. They're slow-walking him like they haven't slow-walked anybody since Jon Jones. It'll be exciting once they decide to remove the bubble wrap.

5. Urijah Faber

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    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 26-6

    Despite that loss to Renan Barao, Urijah Faber probably still has a rubber match (and, maybe, a title fight) with Dominick Cruz in his future. It's too marketable not to do, regardless of whether Faber deserves it.

    But here's guessing Faber will get back on the victory horse sooner rather than later. And if he doesn't, it looks like he's developing a very nice Plan B.  

4. Joseph Benavidez

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    Division: Flyweight
    Record: 16-2

    Probably the most powerful 125er on the planet, Joseph Benavidez is currently a -275 favorite to defeat Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152. So then, how do you explain...

3. Demetrious Johnson

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    Division: Flyweight
    Record: 15-2-1

    ...this?

    Two words: speed kills.

    Demetrious Johnson may be the fastest fighter in all of MMA. He's always active and is very hard to hit. (Even Dominick Cruz gave up, eschewing his own boxing to pin the smaller Johnson against the fence in their 2011 bantamweight title fight.)

    He's comfortable standing and on the ground, and he's got some power, too. I could be wrong, but to me this feels like Johnson's time.  

2. Renan Barao

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    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 29-1 (1)

    He's young, but he earned this spot after controlling Faber to win the interim bantamweight strap. If it's my money on the line, there's only one bantamweight out there who can defeat Dominick Cruz, and that's Renan Barao. 

1. Dominick Cruz

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    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 19-1

    Dominick Cruz is eyeing a return to the cage very early in 2013. In all likelihood, Cruz and his point fighting will immediately face a tough test in Barao.

    Then, there's a good chance that, not long after that, he'll have that rubber match with Faber. Heavy is the head that wears the lighter-weight crown.

     

    Follow Scott Harris on Twitter

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