The biggest shakeup to this division in years came last week with the announcement that the WEC will be merged into the UFC.
Leonard Garcia and Tyler Toner have the honor of being the first WEC featherweights to make the transition, and they’ll fight at the Ultimate Fighter Finale in December. After that, Jose Aldo stars in the co-main event of the UFC PPV on January 1st. Big things are in store for nearly all of these guys.
Note: Our rankings are based off how good we think a fighter currently is, not MMA math.
Matt Brown: He’s atop my pound for pound list as the best fighter in the world. If he can stay healthy, I honestly think he’ll win belts in multiple divisions before his career is over.
Jeremy Botter: Aldo is one of the guys who is really going to benefit from the WEC merger. He’ll have a much bigger marketing push behind him, and if his performances in the cage continue to impress, the new UFC featherweight champ has a chance to be a UFC superstar.
2. Mike Brown
Matt Brown: Brown came back strong with a quick win over Cole Province at WEC 51. Eight times out of ten I think he beats Manny Gamburyan.
Jeremy Botter: Brown may never hold the UFC featherweight title, but he’ll likely be a perennial contender for the belt.
3. Manny Gamburyan
Matt Brown: Manny became another victim of the wrecking ball that is Jose Aldo at WEC 51. That’s nothing to be bummed about as the champ has just crushed everyone that has gotten in his way.
Jeremy Botter: Gamburyan looked good against Aldo, but he was simply overmatched and outgunned.
4. Michihiro Omigawa
Matt Brown: He handed Marlon Sandro the only defeat of his career in late ’09 and has won 8 of his last 9 fights. He needed just 2:30 to dispose of Cole Escovedo at DREAM 16 in September.
Jeremy Botter: Omigawa’s career started off poorly, but he’s rebounded in the past three years to become a true top ten featherweight.
5. Marlon Sandro
Matt Brown: Boasting a 17-1 record, Sandro has been nearly as impressive as his teammate Jose Aldo. He’s fought exclusively for Sengoku since March of 2009, going 5-1 with the promotion.
Jeremy Botter: A Sandro vs. Aldo bout is a dream fight for many hardcore fans. It’s unfortunate that we’ll never get to see it.
Matt Brown: If anyone was wondering just how good Grispi really is, we’ll find out on January 1st. Good luck, young Grispi. That Aldo is quite the fighter.
Jeremy Botter: I hate to say Grispi is like a lamb being led to slaughter, but that’s pretty much what we’re looking at here. Jose Aldo is going to send Grispi tumbling back down the ranks.
7. Bibiano Fernandes
Matt Brown: Three huge wins in a row over Joe Warren, Hiroyuki Takaya and Joachim Hansen land Fernandes in the number 7 spot. His troubles with DREAM behind him, we hope to see the champ back in action soon.
Jeremy Botter: Fernandes has won seven fights in a row since losing to Urijah Faber and Kid Yamamoto back in 2006.
8. Joe Warren
Matt Brown: Since losing to Bibiano Fernandes in August of ’09, Warren has rattled off 4 wins in row and captured the Bellator belt in the process.
Jeremy Botter: He’s one of the best pure wrestlers in mixed martial arts. He’s currently content in Bellator, but at some point you’d have to assume he’ll make his way to the new UFC featherweight division.
9. Mark Hominick
Matt Brown: An unfortunate hand injury kept Hominick from fighting Jose Aldo for the new UFC featherweight title on January 1. His precise striking is going to be hell for anyone at 145.
Jeremy Botter: Hominick was very impressive in battering the wild and predictable Leonard Garcia at the last WEC event.
10. Diego Nunes
Matt Brown: Nunes rebounded from the lone loss of his career to win tough decisions over former top-ten fighter Raphael Assuncao and Tyler Toner. Fun fact, his last 5 fights have gone to decision, while the first 11 of his career were all wins by some sort of stoppage.
Jeremy Botter: Nunes looked good against Tyler Toner and should be matched up against a top competitor in his next bout.