World Extreme Cagefighting did something smart with its March 6 WEC 47
card, giving bantamweight champion Brian Bowles
his first title defense in the main event (against Dominick Cruz
), and former champ Miguel Torres
his first fight since losing the title in the co-main event (against Joseph Benavidez
That matchmaking virtually guarantees that the winners of those two fights will meet in the biggest bantamweight bout of the year some time this summer. And it guarantees that we'll have a firmer picture of the top of the bantamweight division a few months for now. But to see how the bantamweight division shakes up right now, check out our rankings of the Top 10 bantamweights in MMA below. (Editor's note: The fighter's rankings the previous time are in parantheses).
1. Brian Bowles
(1): The champ showed off impressive punching power in winning the title, and that's what makes him the favorite in his first title defense.
2. Miguel Torres
(2): The former champ will have an enormous reach advantage over Benavidez, and that's why he's an enormous favorite to get another shot at the bantamweight belt this year.
3. Dominick Cruz
(4): A lot of fans don't remember that the fight with Bowles will actually be Cruz's second shot at a WEC belt. Cruz previously lost to Urijah Faber in a fight forthe WEC featherweight title in 2007.
4. Joseph Benavidez
(6): He's coming off a very impressive showing against Rani Yahyah, but I just don't think Benavidez is big enough to beat Torres.
5. Rani Yahya
(5): He's probably the best pure submission grappler in the main event, but Yahya isn't quite in the company of the Top 4 because he's not an elite fighter on his feet.
6. Masakatsu Ueda
(7): The Shooto champ has an impressive 10-0-2 record, but it'd be nice to see him get more active: He's fought just once in the last 10 months.
7. Wagnney Fabiano
(NR):After losing a shocking upset to Mackens Semerzier, Fabiano bounced back nicely with a win over Clint Godfrey.
8. Scott Jorgensen
(NR): He's coming off a great 2009, in which he went 3-1 with the only loss a very close split decision.
9. Takeya Mizugaki
(3): Had one of the best fights of the year in 2009 when he went the distance with Torres, but he hasn't quite capitalized on that momentum, looking so-so since then.
10. Charlie Valencia
(NR): Valencia is expected to drop 10 pounds and move down to flyweight just as soon as the WEC adds that division. He'll be better off there, but it's impressive that he's a Top 10 fighter while fighting out of his weight class.