Without question, a featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor would be not only the biggest bout that could be made in the division, but also one of the biggest at any weight class. An Aldo-McGregor tilt could fill a stadium in Brazil or Ireland.
As for whether McGregor is actually the most worthy contender at 145 pounds at the moment? Well, that's a different story.
The answer appears to be "The Answer." Frankie Edgar, the former lightweight champion and the only UFC fighter at the moment who could credibly challenge for titles in three different weight classes, made his case with a superlative performance against Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 57.
An aggressive Edgar dominated Swanson from bell-to-bell and got the submission win at 4:56 of the final round, the latest finish in UFC history. The man who was ranked No. 3 in the UFC's own rankings demolished the guy who was ranked No. 2.
That was enough to earn Edgar a second-place tie, alongside Chad Mendes, behind first-place Aldo in the current edition of the SB Nation featherweight rankings. Both Edgar and Mendes took three second-place votes and three thirds for 51 points apiece. Mendes, for his part, is coming off a decision loss to Aldo in a Fight of the Year candidate at UFC 179, and with two losses to the current champ, isn't likely to get an immediate rematch.
But Edgar and Mendes aren't the only fighters who finish ahead of McGregor in the standing. Ricardo Lamas, who has won two in a row since losing to Aldo at UFC 169, was a unanimous pick for fourth place. And Swanson, who won six in a row before losing to Edgar, took fifth.
(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. This does not affect any fighters considered top 10-worthy at featherweight at the moment).
1. Jose Aldo (25-1, 60 points): While the anniversary came and went without fanfare, Aldo, who beat Mike Brown for the then-WEC belt on Nov. 18, 2009, recently became the third champion in Zuffa history to reign for five years (Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre).
2. Frankie Edgar (18-4-1, 51 points): Three straight wins for Edgar since losing three rounds to two against Aldo two years ago.
3. Chad Mendes (16-2, 51 points): Like Team Alpha Male campmate Joseph Benavidez at flyweight, Mendes has been untouchable in his division apart from the pair of losses to the current champ.
5. Cub Swanson (21-6, 33 points): In a fast-moving division, Swanson may have seen his best opportunity for a title shot come and go.
6. Conor McGregor (16-2, 26 points): One of these days, McGregor will face a high-level wrestler. He might already be champion by that point, but hey ...
7. Patricio Freire (24-2, 25 points): In what might be the best three-way tug of war in a non-UFC division since Ben Henderson, Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner all tangled at lightweight in the WEC, Bellator's Freire currently has the nod over Pat Curran and Daniel Straus at 145.
8. Dennis Bermudez (14-4, 14 points): Loss to Lamas will be tough to overcome, but shouldn't be a killer for a guy who had won seven straight.
9. Dustin Poirier (16-4, 11 points): Poirier's career pattern of reaching a certain level, then getting knocked back down, reared its head again in his quick KO loss to McGregor.
Others receiving votes: Pat Curran 6, Nik Lentz 2, Daniel Straus 2.