MMA 125: Ranking the Top 15 Featherweights in Mixed Martial Arts

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MMA 125: Ranking the Top 15 Featherweights in Mixed Martial Arts
USA TODAY Sports

If you were building the perfect mixed martial arts striker, he'd have a crisp jab, devastating leg kicks and the capacity for violence on a previously unthinkable scale. He'd throw his strikes, not one at a time as we see so often in the cage, but in dizzying combination.

His fearsome visage would make you think, "Hey, he'd make an excellent Dread Pirate Roberts." He'd have the counter wrestling to stand on his feet until he was bored enough to try the mat and the jiu-jitsu to make opponents reconsider that option anyway.

He'd have the discipline to make you beat him—he'd never beat himself in a fit of Anderson Silva-style hubris. A man of the people, he'd celebrate a big win not in the VIP section of an exclusive club but in the crowd. With us.

If you were creating the perfect prototype, in other words, you'd create Jose Aldo.

Of course, when such a striker finally matriculated from the favelas of Brazil, replacing previous versions of the "perfect striker" like Maurice Smith and Mirko Filipovic, MMA fans responded with a giant yawn and a collective shrug of the shoulders.

The greatest featherweight of all time walks among us. He has won 14 consecutive fights in the UFC/WECnine of them by knockout—and MMA fans can barely be bothered to turn on their TVs to watch.

The kind of rivalry that forces fans to stand up and take note simply doesn't seem possible. He is a Picasso buried in a sea of paint-by-the-numbers pretenders, and there are only a handful of interesting challengers to his reign. He's already dispatched most of them.

In the end, to find his place in history, Aldo will likely need to move up in weight to take the more established belt at 155 pounds. The featherweight division, unfortunately, was not ready for a fighter of his caliber.

This list is not a ranking based on past performance. Instead, these ratings are a snapshot of where these athletes stand right now compared to their peers. We've scored each fighter on a 100-point scale based on their abilities in four key categories. You can read more about how the ratings are determined here

Disagree with our order or analysis? Furious about a notable omission? Let us know about it in the comments.

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