Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Dominick Cruz: Unpredictability
Cruz's wild style has baffled many opponents. When they gear up to unload, they are suddenly popped in the jaw and then instantly left alone by three feet of separation. When they think they've got Cruz's timing down pat and prepare to counter, he jolts them down for a takedown.
Behind all the feints, stance switching and head movement is a clever, effective strategy. He always keeps opponents on edge because they don't know what is coming next. His fighting style is so awkward that it's impossible to prepare for, and even if an opponent could, it is so fluid that the training would likely be worthless anyway.
Renan Barao: Balanced Game
Maybe this is a cop-out, but I just couldn't settle on any one advantage for Barao. He is such a well-rounded fighter who always approaches his matches intelligently, so pointing to his balanced game as his definitive edge is certainly accurate, even if it is a touch mundane.
Nevertheless, there is nothing boring about the way he fights. He knows his opponents' strengths and makes sure they can't play to them. Couple his cerebral approach to fighting with his unholy skills and advanced athleticism, and you've got not just a champion but a legitimate pound-for-pound player.