Jose Aldo Jr.'s the best featherweight on the world. On that, reasonable people can all agree.
After that, all bets are off. How do you rate the elites of the 145-pound division in the wake of Aldo's victory over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156?
You can make the case for several fighters in various spots in the top five. Where do you rank Edgar, who pushed Aldo like no one else, but has no wins the division and one win in his past five fights? How do you rank Chad Mendes, whose only loss is to Aldo, but hasn't fought anyone else in the top eight? Where do you rank two of the hottest fighters in the division, Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung Jung? And none of this takes into account the fact the guy getting the next title shot, Anthony Pettis, hasn't been fighting in the division.
Each fighter ranked from No. 2 (Mendes) to No. 5 (Jung) got at least one second-place vote and one fifth from the SB Nation panel, which includes two writers each from MMAFighting, MMA Mania, and Bloody Elbow. Thus, you end up with three points separating second-place Mendes from Lamas and Edgar, who finished tied for fourth.
It seems there will be little to change the picture any time soon, with Aldo vs. Pettis set for Aug. 3, Mendes facing unranked Manny Gamburyan on Feb. 23, and nothing yet scheduled for the rest of the top five.
(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 featherweight fighters under consideration at the moment).
1. Jose Aldo (22-1, 60 points): Whether or not Pettis "deserves" a title shot, the bout has "potential fight of the year" written all over it.
2. Chad Mendes (13-1 48 points): Fight with unranked Gamburyan has more downside than up for Mendes.
3t. Ricardo Lamas (13-2, 45 points): It's hard to blame Lamas for being upset for being passed over for a title shot, but, taking on a fighter the caliber of Jung or Dustin Poirier could only bolster his cause.
3t. Frankie Edgar (15-4-1, 45 points): Will this simply be a pit stop until a drop to bantamweight?
5. Chan Sung Jung (13-3, 39 points): How quickly people forget his 2012 Match of the Year performance against Poirier.
6. Pat Curran (18-4, 28 points): Deserves his spot. The question is how much higher he can go without facing higher-caliber competition.
7. Dustin Poirier (13-2, 21 points): Got off to a slow start against Jonathan Brookins before rallying. Can't afford a similar start against Cub Swanson.
8. Dennis Siver (21-7, 15 points): Siver looked like a 145-pound Brock Lesnar against Nam Phan.
9. Cub Swanson (18-5, 12 points): On as hot a streak as any in the division, Swanson can really make a statement against Poirier.
10. Clay Guida (30-13, 9 points): Will need a stronger performance than the one he showed against Hatsu Hioki if he's going to stay ranked.
Honorable mention: Eric Koch 5, Hatsu Hioki 3.