The bantamweight division gets a brand-new superstar this month when Urijah Faber makes his debut against Takeya Mizugaki at one of the final WEC events in history.
Faber is the only man to hold a victory over champion Dominick Cruz, and the two could rematch for the new UFC bantamweight title in 2011. Faber must get by Mizugaki and Cruz by Jorgensen before the rematch can happen, though.
Note: Our rankings are based on how good we believe the fighter is right now, not MMA math.
Matt Brown: Cruz brings something very unique to the cage in his movement, specifically his head movement. His gas tank is crazy good and has solid wrestling to go along with his better-than-most boxing.
Jeremy Botter: Cruz has a chance to become the first UFC bantamweight champion, but first he’ll have to get by Scott Jorgensen. A bout with Urijah Faber could happen in 2011.
2. Urijah Faber
Matt Brown: Faber instantly becomes a title contender at 135, a weight class that he’ll actually have size on some of the fighers. He’s also the only guy to ever beat Dominick Cruz.
Jeremy Botter: Nobody benefits from the WEC merger more than Faber. A championship run in a new division and a possible coaching gig on The Ultimate Fighter against Miguel Torres will take place on a much bigger stage.
3. Brian Bowles
Matt Brown: Bowles has a huge right hand that has helped him throughout his career. However, that hand and a couple other body parts have failed him lately. Here’s to hoping for a full recovery.
Jeremy Botter: Bowles can’t seem to stay healthy, which affects his ability to take fights. A scheduled bout with Wagnney Fabiano at WEC 52 was canceled due to yet another injury that will keep the one-time bantamweight champion on the shelf for the time being.
4. Joseph Benavidez
Matt Brown: Zuffa loves it when you step up. Benavidez is still relatively new to the sport, so we’ll continue to see a better Joe B each time out.
Jeremy Botter: Benavidez stepped in to face Fabiano for the injured Bowles. It’ll be his first appearance since losing to Dominick Cruz.
5. Scott Jorgensen
Matt Brown: Jorgensen is on quite a streak right now. He’ll get the royal treatment as he fights on the last WEC branded show in December.
Jeremy Botter: Jorgensen gets his opportunity to become the first UFC bantamweight champion when he faces Dominick Cruz in December. He’s won his last five fights, but Cruz presents all kinds of problems for the Twisted Genetiks fighter.
Matt Brown: After some soul searching, Miguel Torres is ready to be Miguel Torres again. Now training with Firas Zahabi in Montreal, Torres is intent on getting the 135 belt back around his waist.
Jeremy Botter: Torres is back on track and in the championship picture. One more win will likely put him near a title shot, but an Ultimate Fighter coaching gig and a dream bout with Urijah Faber may delay it.
7. Takeya Mizugaki
Matt Brown: Since coming to the WEC, Mizugaki has gone 2-2 in four hard fought decisions. He’s got a very tough task of tilting his record to the winning side against Urijah Faber.
Jeremy Botter: Mizugaki will try to spoil Faber’s entrance into the bantamweight division. He won’t have much luck, though.
8. Damacio Page
Matt Brown: His nickname is “The Angel of Death” for crying out loud. Oh yeah, and he’s gone 7-1 in his last eight fights.
Jeremy Botter: He’s strung together a couple of wins and faces tiny Demetrious Johnson at WEC 52 next week.
9. Wagnney Fabiano
Matt Brown: Fabiano’s fight went from tough (Bowles) to tougher (Benavidez) in the blink of an eye.
Jeremy Botter: Wins over Clint Godfrey and Frank Gomez won’t mean nearly as much as a win over Joseph Benavidez.
10. Zach Makovsky
Matt Brown: Makovsky has won six in a row, including all four in Bellator en route to capturing their bantamweight title.
Jeremy Botter: “Fun Size” is one of the best nicknames in the entire sport, right up there with “Awesomely Awesome.”