Of all the champions in the seven weight classes in mixed martial arts, Jose Aldo
is the one I think will remain the champion the longest. Aldo is only 23, and in his last two fights he's defeated the last two featherweight champions, Mike Brown
and Urijah Faber
, decisively. It's hard to see anyone even threatening him any time soon, let along beating him.
But someone has to be next for Aldo, and that someone has to be Manny Gamburyan, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year in MMA on the undercard of Aldo vs. Faber. Aldo is first and Gamburyan is second in my latest ranking of the Top 10 featherweights in MMA, which is below. Top 10 Featherweights in MMA
1. Jose Aldo
(1): Among the many impressive things about Aldo since he signed with the WEC has been how frequently he's fought. In his first 18 months in the promotion he fought six times. I hope the WEC keeps him active and has him back in the cage by August.
2. Manny Gamburyan
(7): After his first-round knockout victory over Mike Brown, there's really no other choice at No. 2. I've always liked Gamburyan and I think he looks great since moving down to 145 pounds, but I give him almost no chance of beating Aldo.
3. Mike Brown
(2): He didn't look like himself in his loss to Gamburyan, and Dana White said afterward that he's having personal problems. I hope we'll soon see the Mike Brown of old.
4. Urijah Faber
(3): Where does Faber go from here? I don't know. He's still the WEC's biggest draw, the only fighter on the roster whose name can sell out an arena, and his name absolutely must be on the poster if the WEC is going to try another pay-per-view. But he's lost three of his last five, and I wouldn't give him much of a chance in a rematch against either Aldo or Brown. The WEC might want to consider Faber vs. Miguel Torres, which would ensure a win for one of its reeling former champions.
5. Hatsu Hioki
(4): He's supposed to return in May in a Shooto fight against Takeshi Inoue, a very good fight that unfortunately won't be available to North American TV viewers.
5. Marlon Sandro
(6) Sandro needed just nine seconds to win his last fight, at Sengoku 12 next month. He'll battle Masanori Kanehara for the Sengoku featherweight title in June.
6. Josh Grispi
(8): If I had to pick one fighter who will eventually beat Aldo, it would be Grispi, who's 13-1, has finished 11 of his opponents in the first round, and is -- most importantly -- only 21 years old and sure to get better. Grispi fights LC Davis in June.
7. Masanori Kanehara
(9): His battle with Sandro is the best featherweight fight on the calendar, until WEC schedules Gamburyan vs. Aldo.
8. Michihiro Omigawa
(10): After beating Michah Miller on Sunday, Omigawa has now won six of his last seven while fighting some of the best opposition that Japanese MMA has to offer.
9. Bibiano Fernandes
(NR): Beat Joachim Hansen in March to retain the Dream featherweight title and would be a great pickup for North American MMA if the WEC can sign him away.
10. Chad Mendes
: After a great win over Anthony Morrison on Saturday night, the 24-year-old Mendes is now 7-0 and another likely future opponent for Aldo.