The 10 Best MMA Fighters of All Time, by Division

Jordy McElroy@ IAugust 12, 2011

The 10 Best MMA Fighters of All Time, by Division

0 of 8

    What determines an all-time great?

    Is it merely status and name recognition, or do we actually consider success against quality opposition? Throughout the short history of MMA, fans have been blessed with a multitude of talent that fit the all-time bill.

    These fighters put in years of dedication and hard work to attain a legendary status that will leave their names forever etched in MMA history.

    As with all rankings, it's impossible to include every great fighter on the list. This doesn't mean that their contributions to the sport are any less appreciated. Regardless of whether it's in a ring or cage, any fighter that steps up in a combative situation to put it all on the line and shed blood deserves the respect of every spectator.

    Seeing as this listing only includes the sanctioned era of the sport, legendary pioneers like Royce Gracie don't make the cut for these particular rankings.

    You'll notice that some UFC Hall of Famers are also absent. The formula for these rankings combine a minimal of performance, name recognition and wins over quality opposition.

    The time has come to pay homage to the fighters that helped shape the history of the sport.

    Including men and women, here are the MMA all-time rankings.

Women’s (Open Weight)

1 of 8

    1) Megumi Fujii - Megumi Fujii was dominating women's MMA way before the mainstream arrival of Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos.

    The submission phenom went undefeated in the sport for over six years, before losing a controversial split decision to Zoila Gurgel in the Bellator 115-pound women's championship.

    2) Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos - Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos may be the most feared woman on the planet. She is the reigning and defending Strikeforce women's featherweight champion, but there has been an issue over finding quality bouts. Strikeforce is constantly forced to scour the globe for worthy opponents for the Brazilian destroyer.

    3) Gina Carano - Many fans have jumped off the bandwagon since her Hollywood turn, but Gina Carano deserves a bulk of the credit for the emergence of women's MMA. Her EliteXC bout with Julie Kedzie in February 2007 left fans craving for more, and women's MMA became a common occurrence on the mainstream stage.

    4) Tara LaRosa - Despite being considered a legendary figure in women's fighting, Tara LaRosa has never received much mainstream recognition. She has held multiple world titles in the UCW, Bodog and DaMMage promotions. Carrying a professional record of 20-2, LaRosa has defeated a multitude of upper-echelon names.

    5) Marloes Coenen - With Gina Carano in Hollywood and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos holding out for a better contract, Marloes Coenen ceased a great opportunity to make a name for herself. She captured Strikeforce gold after submitting undefeated bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman in October 2010. After putting forth one successful title defense, she was defeated by Miesha Tate in July.

    6) Sarah Kaufman - Sarah Kaufman saw her undefeated run end in her October 2010 submission loss to Marloes Coenen. Despite the loss, Kaufman is arguably the most talented fighter in the bantamweight division. She'll get a chance to reclaim her spot atop the 135-pound hierarchy when she meets Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate in a rematch of their May 2009 bout, where Kaufman earned a convincing unanimous decision.

    7) Miesha Tate - With the departure of Gina Carano, women's MMA needed a new face, and it could end up being Miesha "Takedown" Tate. The Strikeforce bantamweight champion is already getting a tremendous amount of buzz after her surprising fourth round submission win over former champion Marloes Coenen.

    8) Roxanne Modafferi - "The Happy Warrior" Roxanne Modafferi is mostly remembered for getting power bombed by Sara Kaufman, but her contributions to the sport extends far beyond being a victim on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10. Modafferi has gone toe to toe with some of the biggest names in women's MMA, and she has claimed victories over Tara LaRosa, Marloes Coenen, Megumi Yabushita and Jennifer Howe.

    9) Erin Toughill - A longtime veteran of the sport, Erin Toughill never got the opportunity to cash in on a much deserved mainstream slot. There was talk of her challenging the likes of Gina Carano and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, but none of the deals with Strikeforce ever held up. If Toughill remained active on a more consistent basis, she could take a spot right behind Santos as the most intimidating figure in women's fighting.

    10) Zoila Gurgel - A pair of gifted split decision wins over Megumi Fujii and Jessica Aguilar have tainted Zoila Gurgel's impressive run at the Bellator 115-pound title. Even with the controversy, Gurgel has proven that she can hang with the best on a consistent basis.

Heavyweight (Over 205 Pounds)

2 of 8

    1) Fedor Emelianenko - People can say what they want, but it's hard to discount the legacy of Fedor Emelianenko.

    He is without a doubt one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.

    Despite brandishing an assassin-like demeanor and a decade of perfection, Emelianenko has always been a class act and role model for future fighters.

    2) Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is one of the most idolized figures in all of MMA. He made his first major splash in the sport in November 2001 at Pride 17, where he defeated Heath Herring to become the first ever Pride heavyweight champion.

    3) Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic - It's a shame that newcomers to the sport missed out on the earlier parts of Mirko "Cro Cop's" career. He was once considered the most feared striker on the planet. His devastating left high kick served up eulogies to some of the best heavyweights in the world.

    4) Randy Couture - When it comes to pure name recognition, there may not be an MMA fighter more famous than Randy Couture. The former three-time UFC heavyweight champion has entertained fight fans for well over a decade. He recently announced his retirement at the age of 47, despite still being competitive against top-10 opposition in the light heavyweight division.

    5) Josh Barnett - It's sad that Josh Barnett's accomplishments have been marred by steroid allegations. He has tested positive on three separate occasions, which puts him in an extremely rare category among professional athletes. With that said, Barnett's talent is legendary, and he deserves to go down as one of the top heavyweights of all time.

    6) Tim Sylvia - As a former two-time UFC heavyweight champion, Tim Sylvia never got the respect he deserved. Bare in mind, some of his comments made you scratch your head, and he wasn't the most intimidating looking heavyweight in the world. Fans could never relate to Sylvia, and his great UFC run has merely become a footnote in history.

    7) Andrei Arlovski - Andrei Arlovski was rocking fangs way before guys like Rashad Evans and Dan Hardy decided to follow suit. Perhaps one of the best pure boxers in the heavyweight division, Arlovski's already Hall-of-Fame worthy career could've seen greater heights with a sturdier chin.

    8) Bas Rutten - TV personality and former UFC heavyweight champion Bas Rutten was cracking domes instead of jokes during his MMA tenure. Along with a UFC title, the "Inside MMA" host was also a three-time open weight King of Pancrase.

    9) Frank Mir - "Now you see Frank Mir!?" How could anyone not see and respect Mir? He has overcome many odds to be in the position he's in today. Most remember him for snapping Tim Sylvia's forearm, but Mir should be remembered for his inspiring return to the sport after a career-threatening motorcycle accident.

    10) Brock Lesnar - Originally, this spot was slated for MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba, but as far as name recognition is concerned, there has never been a fighter in the history of the sport with comparable drawing power to that of Brock Lesnar's. Even as a hardcore fan, his MMA success is an amazing feat. In only seven professional bouts, Lesnar has secured wins over Randy Couture, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Heath Herring. When the dust settles, will he still be on this list? It'll be a long shot considering the meteoric rise of top heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.

Light Heavyweight (205-pound limit)

3 of 8

    1) Chuck Liddell - Along with Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell is considered one of the pioneers of the modern day UFC.

    His looping right hand instilled fear in every fighter it came across.

    As UFC champion, Liddell put forth four successful defenses before falling to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in May 2007. On July 10, 2009, "The Iceman" was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

    2) Mauricio Rua - Some may be surprised by Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's placement on this list, but years of living in Wanderlei Silva's shadow shouldn't trump Rua's incredible accomplishments. He never wore Pride gold because he simply chose not to fight Silva, who he considers his second brother. Would a prime Rua defeat a prime Silva? We'll never know the answer to that question. Thankfully, Rua got his chance in the spotlight as a world champion after defeating unbeaten Karate specialist Lyoto Machida.

    3) Tito Ortiz - There has never been a more controversial figure in the sport than Tito Ortiz. Some have chosen to vilify him for past bad boy antics, but there's no denying Ortiz's legacy. When he hangs up his gloves, he will go down in the history books as an all-time great. He still holds the record for most UFC light heavyweight title defenses (5).

    4) Wanderlei Silva - Throughout his career, Wanderlei Silva has fought with the intent of finishing or being finished, which has left fans with some of the most memorable knockouts in MMA history. He was the Pride middleweight champion from 2001-2007, and he holds the record in the organization for most wins (22) and knockouts (15).

    5) Quinton Jackson - The first man to unify the UFC and Pride light heavyweight titles, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has left an everlasting mark on the sport with his engaging personality and fierce knockout power. Who could ever forget Jackson hoisting Ricardo Arona high into the air and driving him through the mat with a power bomb?

    6) Dan Henderson - It's hard to rank a guy like Dan Henderson, who has shifted between three different weight classes throughout his career. His fighting spirit knows no limits, and he's always willing to test himself by attempting to conquer the "impossible." Overall, Henderson is without a doubt one of the greatest fighters of all time.

    7) Lyoto Machida - Lyoto Machida has prided himself on being the most elusive fighter in UFC history. His unique style of Karate may be the base of his world class skill set, but a high I.Q. and deep knowledge of multiple aspects of fighting has vaulted him into the all-time light heavyweight rankings.

    8) Antonio Rogerio Nogueira - The twin brother of Rodrigo Nogueira, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has crafted a legacy of his own. In his 10-year career, he has defeated a wealth of upper-echelon talent to add to the lengthy list of accomplishments of the great Nogueira name.

    9) Frank Shamrock - One of the legendary icons of the sport, Frank Shamrock was the very first UFC light heavyweight champion. After holding onto the title for an incredible 703-days, he relinquished his throne and retired in 1999. He later returned to give fans a few more fights and tutor the younger generation on what it takes to be a world champion.

    10A) Vitor Belfort - Along with a strong grappling background and world class boxing skills, Vitor Belfort has some of the fastest hands in MMA history. When people tell you not to blink during a Belfort fight, you should definitely heed those words.

    10B) Forrest Griffin - There is no way the light heavyweight list can be completed without Forrest Griffin. His contributions to the sport are invaluable. Outside of being a former champion and defeating world class names, the sport could be in a much different place if not for "The Ultimate Fighter" and Griffin versus Stephan Bonnar in the finale.

Middleweight (185-pound limit)

4 of 8

    1) Anderson Silva - When it's all said and done, Anderson Silva could go down as the greatest fighter of all time.

    As UFC middleweight champion, he has broken a plethora of records including most consecutive title defenses (8), most successful title defenses (8), most consecutive wins (13) and longest title reign.

    Records are one thing, but Silva's incredibly well-rounded striking abilities allows him to conduct his own symphony of destruction.

    2) Rich Franklin - Despite being a former world champion and future UFC Hall of Famer, Rich Franklin doesn't always get the respect and recognition he deserves. Throughout his MMA tenure, he has given fans memorable bouts that showcased his grit and determination to be the best. It makes you wonder. How different would Franklin's career had been if Anderson Silva never came to the UFC?

    3) Chael Sonnen - Chael Sonnen could've just as easily ascended the WWE ranks as he has in MMA. People call it trash talk, but Sonnen doesn't spew garbage. You may not agree with what he says, but the boldness and cleverness of his words keeps you coming back for more. With that said, Sonnen has proven time and again that he has the in-ring ability to back up everything he says.

    4) Nate Marquardt - Overlooking a tough 2011, Nate Marquardt enjoyed a successful run in the UFC. The three-time middleweight King of Pancrase joined the promotion in August 2005, where he defeated respected veteran Ivan Salaverry in his debut. The victory symbolized his arrival, and he rode the wave of momentum all the way to the upper-echelon ranks of the division.

    5) Paulo Filho - Once upon a time, Paulo Filho was considered the best middleweight in the world. MMA forums across the net drooled over the possibility of Filho matching up with Anderson Silva. It's hard to say what happened to Filho. The potential was definitely there, but he never really lived up to the hype surrounding him.

    6) Yushin Okami - Outside of Ricardo Almeida, Yushin Okami may be the most underrated middleweight on this list. There isn't any flash or eye-candy when he fights. He comes in with a solid game plan for every fight and never deviates from it. While his boxing continues to improve, Okami remains one of the strongest wrestlers in the entire division.

    7) Gegard Mousasi - Until his monumental collapse against Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, Gegard Mousasi was touted as the next middleweight to challenge the seemingly unstoppable Anderson Silva. At only 26 years of age, Mousasi already has 36 bouts under his belt, and the loss to Lawal was his only defeat in nearly five years. The future remains bright for the ever-improving Mousasi.

    8) Evan Tanner - The late Evan Tanner has always been an inspirational figure in the sport. He never coasted on his opportunities, and he always lived life to the fullest. His undying persistence to push himself to the limit earned him a UFC title in February 2005.

    9) Ricardo Almeida - The tail end of Ricardo Almeida's career wasn't nearly as impressive as his earlier years. Having placed in ADCC on five separate occasions, there have been very few fighters in the sport with the submission prowess of Almeida. He recently announced his retirement from fighting, and he'll now act as an MMA judge in the state of New Jersey.

    10) Matt Lindland - Newer fans are probably flabbergasted by this pick over Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, but hardcore fans should remember the days when Matt Lindland was considered one of the best middleweights out there. Those days have certainly come and gone for "The Law," who seems to be getting scraped off the canvas by medical personnel after every fight.

Welterweight (170-pound limit)

5 of 8

    1) Georges St-Pierre - Currently the face of the UFC, Georges St-Pierre is listed beside Anderson Silva as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

    In the sport's history, there has never been a more complete fighter than St-Pierre. His professional résumé is pretty much unrivaled, having bested a plethora of legends and pound-for-pound opposition.

    2) Matt Hughes - A UFC Hall of Famer, Matt Hughes' star status deserves to be on par with UFC pioneers Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz. It took people a long time to warm up to the idea of Georges St-Pierre being his successor. Even though GSP tops this list, Hughes still holds UFC records for most wins (18) and most successful welterweight title defenses (7).

    3) Jake Shields - Jake Shields has long been considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He has held multiple world titles in the welterweight and middleweight divisions. Before losing to Georges St-Pierre in April 2011, Shields hadn't lost a bout in over six years.

    4) Jon Fitch - Jon Fitch's grinding style and reserved personality tends to keep him under the radar, but his incredible record speaks for itself. Since entering the UFC, Fitch has amassed a 13-1 record, with the one loss coming to welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

    5) Thiago Alves - The past couple of years have been tumultuous for Thiago Alves, but he took his career to new heights in 2008 when he defeated Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan and Josh Koscheck. "The Pitbull" has been credited as the best striker in the welterweight division.

    6) Josh Koscheck - A former NCAA Division I Champion at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Josh Koscheck was destined for greatness in MMA. After being featured on the original season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Koscheck went on to climb the welterweight ranks and contend for a world title.

    7) Diego Sanchez - Yes! Diego Sanchez comes in at number seven on the all-time list. As the winner of the "Ultimate Fighter" Season One, Sanchez has had a successful career inside the UFC octagon. A world title has continued to elude "The Dream" in the welterweight and lightweight divisions, which are two of the most stacked weight classes in the sport. Still, Sanchez has managed to overcome quality opposition and vie for lightweight gold.

    8) Karo Parisyan - Personal issues have been a downer on what has been a tremendous career for Karo Parisyan. At only 28 years of age, Parisyan's MMA tenure runs over a decade. Despite coming close on several occasions, Parisyan never got his UFC title shot.

    9) Nick Diaz - Nick Diaz has always been a skilled fighter, but he really started to come into his own after his November 2007 loss to K.J. Noons. The controversial Stockton native is on a 10-fight win streak and set to face UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre on October 29.

    10) Pat Miletich - Pat Miletich was the inaugural champion in the UFC welterweight division. He has been a great presence outside the cage just as much as inside. His vision and knowledge of the sport has helped churn out other world class fighters in Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver and Robbie Lawler.

Lightweight (155-pound limit)

6 of 8

    1) B.J. Penn - B.J. Penn's legacy outshines most in the sport. There is rarely so much talent embedded into one individual.

    When motivated, Penn has proven to be nearly unstoppable. He holds UFC records for most successful lightweight title defenses (3) and most lightweight wins (10).

    2) Takanori Gomi - Takanori Gomi can be considered Japan's version of B.J. Penn. As Pride lightweight champion, Gomi's punching power and underrated wrestling abilities were unrivaled. In the UFC, his skills seem to have tapered off a bit, but he proved that there is still some gas left in the tank with a surprising knockout win over Tyson Griffin.

    3) Jens Pulver - The first ever UFC lightweight champion, Jens Pulver is looked to as a pioneer of the lighter weight classes. He is mostly remembered for his epic battle with B.J. Penn at UFC 35. After losing the early rounds, Pulver blames a Penn fan in attendance that night for invigorating him into a comeback for the majority decision.

    4) Sean Sherk - When the lightweight division returned to the UFC, Sean Sherk was the first fighter to get his hands on the gold in October 2006. Despite all of his accomplishments in the sport, Sherk remains underrated in the lightweight division. In over a decade of competing, Sherk's only losses have come to world champions Georges St-Pierre, B.J. Penn, Matt Hughes and Frankie Edgar.

    5) Shinya Aoki - Shinya Aoki could be the greatest submission artist in the history of the sport. In 28 wins, 18 of those have come by submission. He is the former Shooto middleweight champion and the current Dream lightweight champion. His eyes remain fixated on a return to the States and Strikeforce gold.

    6) Frankie Edgar - When he beat B.J. Penn the first time, fans and pundits called it a fluke. When he beat Penn a second time, people began to talk about the lightweight legend being past his prime. Who would've thought that a bout with Gray Maynard would be Edgar's coming out party as a UFC superstar? The bout ended in an unsatisfying draw, but Edgar and Maynard both became stars at UFC 125.

    7) Gray Maynard - Gray Maynard's hard work seems to finally be paying off. He has enjoyed a quiet climb up the lightweight hierarchy. Before earning a title shot, Maynard was forced to clear eight hurdles of quality opposition, including a win over current champion Frankie Edgar.

    8) Gilbert Melendez - Gilbert Melendez has been considered a top-tier lightweight for years. Strikeforce has given him a mainstream outlet to finally showcase his skills to the world. As the undisputed Strikeforce lightweight champion, Melendez has successfully defended his throne against Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri. He continues to eye a possible shot at UFC gold.

    9) Joachim Hansen - Consistency hasn't held up as one of Joachim Hansen's strong points in the sport, but his brute standup power and BJJ prowess makes him a tough fight for anyone. His biggest accomplishment has to be his shocking first round TKO stoppage over Shinya Aoki to win the 2008 Dream Lightweight Grand Prix and the world title.

    10) Kenny Florian - Kenny Florian has all of the credentials in the world except for a world title. There are plenty of world class names that never won a world title, but Florian hopes to cross his name off that list with a win over UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 136.

Featherweight (145-pound limit)

7 of 8

    1) Jose Aldo - One of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Jose Aldo is easily the most dominant featherweight of all time.

    While most fear his striking, the scariest part of Aldo's game is the unknown. Who knew he had a great double leg takedown, which was constantly demonstrated in his UFC 129 bout with Mark Hominick.

    If his grappling is on par with his striking, Aldo could be champ for a long time.

    2) Urijah Faber - Jose Aldo may be the most dominant, but no featherweight is as popular as "The California Kid" Urijah Faber. Fans without an inkling of knowledge of the bantamweight and featherweight divisions recognize Faber. Along with Miguel Torres, he has served as the face of the lighter weight classes for a long time. He holds the record for most consecutive WEC title defenses (5).

    3) Mike Brown - There has never been a more powerful featherweight than Mike Brown. He showcased that power in his shocking first round upset of Urijah Faber at WEC 36 for the featherweight title. At 35 years of age, Brown seems to be on the final legs of career, losing four of his last three fights. Still, it's hard to call Brown's MMA journey anything but a success.

    4) Michihiro Omigawa - Despite a laundry list of accomplishments in his native land of Japan, Michihiro Omigawa's record in the UFC stands at 0-4. Major victories over Hatsu Hioki, Marlon Sandro, and Hiroyuki Takaya help this Japanese legend make the all-time list.

    5) Hatsu Hioki - Many MMA publications have Hatsu Hioki ranked as one of the top three featherweights in the world. The Sengoku featherweight champion recently signed with the UFC, and his grinding style and world class grappling puts him in prime position to make some noise in the western promotion.

    6) Hiroyuki Takaya - The year 2010 was a memorable one for Hiroyuki Takaya, who overcame past inconsistencies and picked up three straight wins over Bibiano Fernandes, Joachim Hansen and Chase Beebe. The win over Fernandes earned Takaya the Dream featherweight title. Unfortunately, Takaya's success hasn't carried over in the States, where he recently lost a split decision to Roberto Peralta. He rebounded in July with a win over Kazuyuki Miyata.

    7) Bibiano Fernandes - Bibiano Fernandes' professional career began with consecutive losses to MMA legends Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto and Urijah Faber. While most fighters would've called it a career, Fernandes continued on and defeated Joe Warren, Hiroyuki Takaya and Joachim Hansen to win the Dream Featherweight Grand Prix and his first world title. The celebration didn't last long. Takaya took the belt in a rematch in December 2010.

    8) Chad Mendes - Sporting a spotless professional record, Chad "Money" Mendes sits right behind Jose Aldo on the current featherweight totem pole. A bout between the two featherweights could be on tap if Aldo gets past Kenny Florian in October. Can Mendes succeed where his teammate Urijah Faber failed? According to Faber, Mendes is Urijah Faber 2.0, and he is fully capable of ousting Aldo.

    9) Marlon Sandro - Anyone that doubts the punching power of fighters in the featherweight division hasn't seen Marlon Sandro in action. The former Sengoku featherweight champion's aggressive style and one-punch knockout power has made him a favorite amongst hardcore fans looking for exciting fights.

    10) Manny Gamburyan - Manny Gamburyan tends to get overlooked in the featherweight division. He earned a title shot against Jose Aldo in September 2010 after shocking fans with his first round knockout of former champion Mike Brown. Unfortunately, the title bout didn't go in Gamburyan's favor, as Aldo picked up the second round knockout to retain his title. Despite coming off back to back losses, Gamburyan remains a viable threat to any top-10 opponent.

Bantamweight (135-pound limit)

8 of 8

    1) Dominick Cruz - It's safe to say Dominick Cruz doesn't need the entrance song "Remember My Name" by Maino anymore.

    There won't be anyone forgetting his name for a long time after his exciting unanimous decision win over Urijah Faber in July.

    As Cruz continues to add to his legacy as the greatest bantamweight of all time, he's already inked in the history books as the first bantamweight champion in UFC history.

    2) Miguel Torres - The vast majority likely expected Miguel Torres to take the top spot, but Dominick Cruz has the same amount of title defenses over higher quality opposition. This doesn't take away from what Torres has meant to the sport and especially the lighter weight classes. Like Faber, fighters look up to Torres as one of the pioneers of the lighter divisions.

    3) Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto - Japanese standup assassin Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto fits the same bill as Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres. He is a legend around the world, and many people look to him as one of first major superstars in the lighter divisions. There are few highlight reels that measure up to "Kid's."

    4) Joseph Benavidez - In a world without Dominick Cruz, Joseph Benavidez would probably be brandishing UFC gold. The Team Alpha Male member has only two losses on his professional record, and both of those losses have come to Cruz. With the flyweight division in the works for 2012, Benavidez will likely drop weight and seek another opportunity to win a world title.

    5) Brian Bowles - Brian Bowles shocked the world at WEC 42 by stopping the seemingly unstoppable bantamweight champion Miguel Torres. The celebration was short lived as Bowles lost the title to Dominick Cruz in his next outing. A severely broken hand during the Cruz bout and a plethora of other injuries kept Bowles sidelined for nearly a year. He returned in March and has since picked up back to back wins over Damacio Page and Takeya Mizugaki.

    6) Demetrious Johnson - Demetrious Johnson is another fantastic bantamweight that could really use a 125-pound division. Despite his small stature, "Mighty Mouse" has defeated consecutive upper-echelon names in Miguel Torres, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto and Damacio Page. He'll get a shot at UFC gold on October 1.

    7) Scott Jorgensen - Things finally started to come together for Scott Jorgensen in 2009 and 2010. He won five consecutive bouts in the WEC, and he was offered a shot at the bantamweight title in the promotion's swan song. The former three-time Pac-10 Champion out of Boise State University wasn't able to bring home the gold in the end, but he ensured another run by going the distance with top bantamweight Dominick Cruz.

    8) Eddie Wineland - In May 2006, Eddie Wineland defeated Antonio Banuelos to become the first ever WEC bantamweight champion. He went on to lose the belt to Chase Beebe in March 2007. Consistency has never been an issue for Wineland, who hasn't lost back to back bouts in nearly six years, but outside of Banuelos, he has yet to defeat a major upper-echelon name.

    9) Rani Yahya - Rani Yahya has been a hit and miss in his MMA tenure. He's either beating world champions or losing to top contenders. There aren't many fighters in the division that can hang with Yahya on the ground. He is a second degree black belt in BJJ and the 2007 ADCC world champion.

    10) Antonio Banuelos - Antonio Banuelos took part in some memorable battles during his WEC tenure. In a division stacked with world class wrestlers, Banuelos managed to stay afloat with his scrappy standup and competent ground game. The biggest win of his career came in a split decision over Scott Jorgensen in June 2009.