Saturday, April 13

10 Best UFC Bantamweights Of All Time, Ranked

In 2010, the UFC announced that they would be adopting the bantamweight division from World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) the following year, and the WEC Bantamweight Championship would become the UFC Bantamweight Championship.



RELATED: 10 UFC Champions Who Won Titles In Other Major Promotions

Prior to this announcement, the best lower-weight fighters in the world were not fighting in the UFC. Since 2011, the 135-pound division has been home to some of the fastest and technically sound fighters in the industry. Over the past decade, some of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world have come from the bantamweight division. However, 10 specific fighters have made their claim to being the best to ever compete in the weight class.

All stats are sourced from Tapology.

UPDATE: 2023/11/21 18:00 EST BY ETHAN SCHLABAUGH

The UFC Bantamweight division has been filled with countless legendary names, such as Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, who have all had some of the most historic fights in the promotion. The division is now being run by younger talent who are starting to make their name, such as Aljamain Sterling. With such a vast array of talent, it might be hard to take notice of them all and that is why it is so impressive when someone is able to break away from the rest of the division and stand out among them. Let’s take a look at some of the former champions and stalwarts that held the bantamweight division down during their time as a fighter.


10 Urijah Faber Was A Constant Contender

UFC Career (2011-2019)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

35-11

UFC Hall of Fame

Vs. Dominick Cruz (UFC 132)

“The California Kid” Urijah Faber was one of the first stars in the UFC bantamweight division, as he was already a rising star in the no longer in business WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) that the UFC purchased in 2010. The next year, Faber received the first shot at the UFC Bantamweight Championship when he fought then-champion Dominick Cruz. The two fought at UFC 132, and this was the first time the division headlined a pay-per-view event.

Faber was never able to win the UFC title. After his first title fight with Cruz, he would fight for the title three other times in losing efforts. Despite never winning the championship, Faber would go on to earn 10 wins in the UFC bantamweight division.

9 Joseph Benavidez Dominated The WEC

UFC Career (2011-2021)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

28-8

N/A

Vs. Dominick Cruz (WEC 50)

Joseph Benavidez is without a doubt one of the most dominant fighters to have never won a UFC championship. For the majority of his career, Benavidez was at the top of whatever division he was a part of. In WEC and the early days of the UFC bantamweight division, Benavidez had a strong claim to being the second-best in the division.

After losing twice to Dominick Cruz, it was hard to earn another title fight despite defeating every other fighter put in front of him. Unfortunately for Benavidez, the same fate would await him when the UFC created a flyweight division. Last year, Benavidez announced his retirement with a UFC record of 15-6.

8 Cody Garbrandt Is Looking For A Comeback

UFC Career (2015-PRESENT)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

13-5

1x Bantamweight

Vs. Dominick Cruz (UFC 207)

With an 11-fight undefeated streak, Cody Garbrandt was at one time the best bantamweight fighter in the world. After 10 straight wins, with 9 of those wins coming by knockout, Garbrandt earned an opportunity at the UFC Bantamweight Championship. At UFC 207, in 2016, Garbrandt put on the performance of a lifetime and defeated Dominick Cruz for the title.

However, Garbrandt’s career since winning the title has been disappointing. He lost the title in his first title defense against TJ Dillashaw. Garbrandt made an attempt to move down to the flyweight division where he lost his first fight against Kai Kara-France via TKO at UFC 269. Garbrandt finally notched his first win since 2020 as he returned to Bantamweight to defeat Trevin Jones at UFC 285.

7 Sean O’Malley Is Quite The Character

UFC Career (2017-PRESENT)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

17-1-1

x1 Bantamweight

Vs. Petr Yan (UFC 280)

O’Malley has made waves with his UFC career, as of now, only suffering a single loss to Marlon Vera at UFC 252 and a No-Contest with Pedro Munhoz due to an accidental eye poke. Recently, Sean was able to beat Aljamain Sterling to capture his first UFC title in the bantamweight division.

O’Malley also has earned quite a list of accolades with multiple Performance and Fight of the Night rewards in matches against names like Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, and Raulian Paiva. Here is to seeing what O’Malley can do as champion and how long that reign might last.

6 Henry Cejudo Was A Double Champion

UFC Career (2014-2020/2023)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

16-3

1x Bantamweight, 1x Flyweight

Vs. Marlon Moraes (UFC 238)

Despite only fighting twice in the division, former UFC Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo proved he was one of the best to ever fight at 135 pounds. As the UFC Flyweight Champion, a title he earned by beating the most dominant champion in UFC history Demetrious Johnson, Cejudo decided to challenge himself by trying to win the title in the next division up.

After TJ Dillashaw was stripped of the title due to a failed drug test, Cejudo won the vacant title by defeating Marlon Moraes. He then went on to successfully defend the title by knocking out Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in 2020. After the fight, Cejudo retired from the sport.

5 Petr Yan Burst On To The Scene

UFC Career (2018-PRESENT)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

16-5

1x Bantamweight

Vs. Cory Sanhagen (UFC 267)

Former Bantamweight Champion, Petr Yan has had a very impressive career in MMA with a record of 16 wins and 5 losses. He has victories over major names like Jose Aldo, John Dodson, and Urijah Faber en route to his first title reign.

RELATED: Predicting the Champion Of Every UFC Division At The End of 2022

Yan won six straight UFC fights, highlighted by a knockout win over Urijah Faber, in order to earn his first UFC title fight. After Henry Cejudo relinquished the title, Yan won the vacant title by defeating Jose Aldo by technical knockout. Yan’s disqualification loss resulted in him losing the title, but in his next fight, he won an interim title by defeating Cory Sandhagen.

4 Aljamain Sterling Held A Nine Fight Win Streak

UFC Career (2014-PRESENT)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

23-4

x1 Bantamweight

Vs. Henry Cejudo (UFC 288)

After capturing the bantamweight title due to bizarre circumstances with a DQ victory, Sterling went on to have a decent run with the belt, scoring defenses against Petr Yan, T.J. Dillashaw, and Henry Cejudo.

RELATED: 10 Weirdest Disqualifications In MMA History

To earn his title fight, Sterling won five straight fights. Sterling’s resume included notable wins against Cory Sandhagen, Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera, and former UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao. Sterling had just recently dropped the belt to Sean O’Malley, who scored a win at UFC 292.

3 Renan Barao Was One Of The Best

UFC Career (2011-2019)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

36-10-1

x1 Bantamweight

Vs. T.J. Dillashaw (UFC On Fox 16)

For almost a decade, former UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao was unbeaten, having earned 32 wins in a row. Seven of those fights took place in the famous octagon. During his win streak, Barao won four title fights. Due to Dominick Cruz being injured, Barao won an interim title after defeating Urijah Faber in 2012. Barao went on to defend his interim title twice. He submitted Michael McDonald and knocked out former WEC champion Eddie Wineland.

Barao was later promoted to the undisputed champion and defended the title once in a rematch against Faber. He lost the title in 2015 to TJ Dillashaw. After this fight, Barao never recovered but his legacy prior to this made sure his legacy is well defined and secured.

2 T.J. Dillashaw Was A KO Machine

UFC Career (2011-2022)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

17-5

x2 Bantamweight

Vs. Cody Garbrandt (UFC 227)

Since his UFC debut in 2011, TJ Dillashaw has been almost unstoppable at 135 pounds. Despite failing to win The Ultimate Fighter in his debut, Dillashaw won five of his next six fights to earn a title opportunity. Dillashaw shocked the world when he knocked out Renan Barao to win the UFC Bantamweight Championship.

Dillashaw has not just shown dominance during his UFC tenure, he has also shown resilience. In his first title defense, Dillashaw lost the title by a split decision to Dominick Cruz. He followed that loss with wins against John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao in order to earn another title shot. He won the bantamweight title for a second time by defeating Cody Garbrandt. He defended the title once in a rematch against Garbrandt but was later stripped of the title due to a failed drug test.

1 Dominick Cruz Reigns Supreme

UFC Career (2011-PRESENT)

Record

Championship(s)

Notable Fight

24-4

x2 Bantamweight

Vs. Urijah Faber (UFC 132)

The UFC’s first bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, has built a resume that makes it hard not to call him the best 135-pound fighter of all time. At the peak of his career, Cruz won 13 fights in a row. Seven of those fights resulted in him winning or defending championships. During his legendary run, he earned title wins against notable fighters such as Joseph Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, and Urijah Faber.

Cruz never lost the inaugural UFC bantamweight title. He was stripped of the belt due to injury and later regained the title by defeating Dillashaw. Cruz lost the bantamweight title in 2016 against Cody Garbrandt. However, Cruz is not done yet, as he still competes actively and has recent wins over Pedro Munhoz and Casey Kenney.

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