Mark Kolbe, Getty Images
The UFC has yet to crown its first flyweight champion. But until the issue is decided, consider Joseph Benavidez the king of the 125-pound weight class.
Many of the fighters in the MMAFighting.com flyweight rankings needed to spend at least a portion of their career fighting at a higher weight class. This is especially true for those fighting outside of Japan, where there has long been more opportunity for lower-weight competitors than in the rest of the world.
No one in the 125-pound rankings was more impressive fighting out of his weight class than the Las Cruces, N.M. native in the WEC and UFC. Over the course of nine fights, his only two losses were to current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Their first bout was a unanimous decision and Fight of the Night at WEC 42; the rematch was a split decision at WEC 50 in which Benavidez won one judge's card and took two of five rounds on another.
A razor-thin loss to a top-five pound-for-pound fighter was the only thing that kept an undersized Benavidez from becoming the Frankie Edgar of the bantamweight class.
In his first fight at 125 pounds, Benavidez knocked out a top-five ranked flyweight fighter, Yasuhiro Urushitani, who came into their March 3 fight 11-1-4 in his previous 16 bouts.
This isn't meant to take anything away from Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, who will face Benavidez for the flyweight championship at a time and place to be determined. But given Benavidez's track record at 135 pounds and his impressive debut at 125, the unofficial title is his until someone his size can prove himself better.
(Official MMAFighting.com ranking policy: Fighters who are under commission suspensions are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their penalty).
For more rankings from bantamweight to heavyweight, check out the SB Nation Consensus rankings.
- Joseph Benavidez (16-2) -- The Team Alpha Male fighter has won six of his past seven fights.
- Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1) -- Unlike in their first meeting, "Mighty Mouse" had gas left in the tank against Ian McCall in their June 8 rematch, which suggests an ability to correct mistakes.
- Ian McCall (11-3-1) -- Was flustered by Johnson's speed and versatility, but he's going to be a tough out for anyone.
- Jussier da Silva (15-1) -- The Brazilian phenom's only loss in 14 pro fights is to McCall.
- Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-5-6) -- Was KO loss to Benavidez a sign the 35-year old veteran's prime may have come just a bit too soon?
- Darrell Montague (10-2) -- Recently finished two opponents on a 12-day turnaround. Not a bad way to rebound from losing the Tachi Palace Fights title to McCall.
- Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3) -- Would likely be ranked higher if inactivity wasn't a factor; hasn't fought since losing to da Silva last summer and has none scheduled.
- John Dodson (13-5) -- "The Ultimate Fighter 14" bantamweight tourney winner has found a home at his natural weight class.
- Louis Gaudinot (6-2) -- A gutsy comeback win over John Lineker at UFC on Fox 3 shows that the green-haired Hoboken native has courage under fire.
- Shinichi Kojima (12-4-5) -- The former Shooto bantamweight (123-lb.) champ is looking to shake off a March upset loss to Nam Jin Jo.
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