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Power Ranking Each UFC Division on Strength of Competition

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2016

Power Ranking Each UFC Division on Strength of Competition

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    With the recent PPV trends suggesting that fans aren't as interested in the lighter weight divisions, we should take a look at why that is the case. Some argue that fans don't think that smaller fighters can deliver the satisfying knockouts that we crave. Some believe that the new weight divisions don't have enough star power to warrant spending $55 of our hard-earned money on guys who aren't big enough names.

    One thing is for sure: The lighter weight classes as a whole are not hurting for talent. With some of MMA's top talents weighing in below 155 pounds, the little guys face fierce competition every time they step into the cage.

    But how does that level of competition compare to that of the heavier divisions? Here is a power ranking of each division based on strength of competition.

Flyweight

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    Champion: Demetrious Johnson

    Top Challengers: Jussier da Silva, Joseph Benavidez, Ian McCall

    Other Contenders: John Dodson, Ulysses Gomez, Yasuhiro Urushitani

    Notables: Darren Uyenoyama, John Moraga, Louis Gaudinot

    Surprise, surprise. The newest division added to the UFC is the weakest one of all. What do you expect? There are only 15 men in the division and the three highest-ranking fighters other than the champion are all coming off of losses.

    Until someone makes big moves with an epic submission or monstrous knockout, it will be hard for fans to really take notice of the flyweights.

Bantamweight

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    Champion: Dominick Cruz, Renan Barao (Interim)

    Top Challengers: Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald, Brian Bowles

    Other Contenders: Eddie Wineland, Mike Easton, Brad Pickett, Ivan Menjivar

    Notables: KID Yamamoto, Hacran Dias, TJ Dillashaw, Francisco Rivera

    The bad boys of bantamweight might have ranked higher were it not for the divisional departures of Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, along with the recent release of former champion Miguel Torres and the fact that they have two champions who don't defend their belts.

    When Dominick Cruz returns (presumably in mid-2013), you can expect for the 135-pound studs of the Octagon to really start making waves.

Middleweight

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    Champion: Anderson Silva

    Top Challengers: Chris Weidman, Tim Boetsch, Michael Bisping

    Other Contenders: Jake Shields, Alan Belcher, Vitor Belfort

    Notables: Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, Cung Le, Patrick Cote, Brian Stann, Hector Lombard, Rousimar Palhares, Chris Leben, Mark Munoz, Yushin Okami

    The middleweight division is as cleaned out as it has ever been. Chris Weidman is the best candidate to challenge Anderson Silva for the title, and many would argue that he isn't ready for a shot at the belt.

    There is no one else on the roster who I would currently say is deserving of a shot at the belt, which is good news considering that the champion will likely have his next two fights out of the division, and there will likely be no title fight until the end of next year.

    Star power is in this division with the likes of Rich Franklin, Cung Le and their mutual opponent, Wanderlei Silva; however, each man will likely fade off into retirement in the next few years, leaving the division an empty mess.

Light-Heavyweight

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    Champion: Jon Jones

    Top Challengers: Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans

    Other Contenders: Alexander Gustafsson, Shogun Rua, Phil Davis, Glover Teixeira

    Notables: Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Brandon Vera, Quinton Jackson, Ryan Bader, Fabio Maldonado, Thiago Silva, Chael Sonnen

    While I have separated the talent of each division into separate groups within this article, it is clear that Jon Jones stands above everyone with a shallow level of elite challengers (all vanquished), a few fighters who are better than most and then everyone else.

    Do you see anyone from the bottom group defeating anyone in the group above them?

    Unfortunately, the division isn't growing as fast as Jon Jones is vanquishing the challengers that are put in front of him (or at least the ones he actually agrees to fight).

Heavyweight

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    Champion: Junior dos Santos

    Top Challengers: Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem, Daniel Cormier, Fabricio Werdum

    Other Contenders: Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, Big Nog, Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, Stefan Struve

    Notables: Bigfoot Silva, Roy Nelson, Stipe Miocic, Shane del Rosario, Gabriel Gonzaga, Josh Barnett, Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, Pat Barry, Lavar Johnson, Mike Russow, Phil de Fries

    With only 27 fighters on their roster (plus Cormier and Barnett, who are under Zuffa contract), the UFC heavyweight division may be the home to the biggest fighters in the world, but the smallest number of them.

    Outside of those who have already fought for the belt, there are a few potential stars that will develop in the next few weeks. Travis Browne vs. Bigfoot Silva and Stefan Struve vs. Stipe Miocic are the headlining fights of two cards in the next three weeks.

    There is some solid competition from top to bottom, but this is another top-heavy division that features a clear line as to where the true talent lies.

Featherweight

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    Champion: Jose Aldo

    Top Challengers: Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Korean Zombie

    Other Contenders: Clay Guida, Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki, Erik Koch, Dennis Siver

    Notables: Mike Brown, Mark Hominick, Leonard Garcia, Manny Gamburyan, Diego Nunes, Bart Palaszewski, Charles Oliveira, Jimy Hettes, Dustin Poirier, George Roop, Rani Yahya

    It's hard to stand out in the UFC featherweight division when there are so many dangerous opponents at every turn. The division holds dangerous wrestlers, strikers, submission artists and several of the best cardio guys in the world.

    Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida will make welcome additions to the division that was previously lacking star power. Although the big names weren't fighting at 145, the competition level has been fierce since the division was instituted.

Lightweight

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    Champion: Ben Henderson

    Top Challengers: Nate Diaz, Gray Maynard, Anthony Pettis

    Other Contenders: Donald Cerrone, Joe Lauzon, Melvin Guillard, Diego Sanchez, Jim Miller

    Notables: Jamie Varner, Gleison Tibau, Rafael dos Anjos, George Sotiropoulos, Evan Dunham, Brian Ebersole, TJ Grant, Mark Bocek, Edson Barboza, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Paul Sass, Thiago Tavares, Shane Roller, Sam Stout, Tony Ferguson, Takanori Gomi, Mac Danzig

    With the divisional departures of Clay Guida and Frankie Edgar, the lightweight division has lost a pair of well-rounded fan favorites. However, tough from top to bottom, the division has a lot of stars who can beat any fighter on the right day.

    Stars like George Sotiropoulos, Sam Stout, Evan Dunham and Thiago Tavares are dangerous to any man on the roster, but they are all outside of the division's top 10. That's roster depth at its finest.

Welterweight

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    Champion: Georges St-Pierre, Carlos Condit (interim)

    Top Challengers: Nick Diaz, Johny Hendricks, Martin Kampmann

    Other Contenders: Jake Ellenberger, Josh Koscheck, Erick Silva, Jon Fitch, Rory MacDonald

    Notables: Thiago Alves, BJ Penn, Demian Maia, Mike Swick, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Dong Hyun Kim, Mike Pyle, Kyle Noke, Seth Baczynski, John Hathaway, Siyar Bahadurzada, Dan Hardy, John Maguire, Matt Brown, Mike Pierce, Rick Story, TJ Waldburger

    Every single fighter at welterweight is dangerous to an extreme level. From the top guys like Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre down to the lower-ranked fighters like Mike Pierce and John Hathaway, taking a fight at 170 pounds is like agreeing to walk into a war zone. 

    The champion was once considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world because of his utter domination against every high-level star who was put in his path. Legends aren't built off of wins alone. They are built off of wins against top names, and Georges St-Pierre has one of the most impressive resumes in the business due to his welterweight home.

    GSP returns in November, and he will attempt to get back to his winning ways after an 18-month layoff. 

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