Jose Aldo remains atop a featherweight division plagued by inactivity
The featherweight division remains somewhat stagnant for February. Chad Mendes had a chance to cement himself as the #2 featherweight in the world, but turned in a lackluster performance against Michihiro Omigawa. Jose Aldo and Mark Hominick don’t face off until April, and few of the top ten guys even have fights booked at this point.
Notes: Our rankings are subjective and are weighted heavily in favor of recent performance instead of a career body of work.
1. Jose Aldo
Aldo makes his long-awaited UFC debut (as champion, no less) when he takes on Mark Hominick at UFC 129 in Toronto. There will be 55,000 people in the stadium when Aldo takes to the cage; that’s pretty good exposure for a guy you’re wanting to push as one of the best fighters in the world. Everybody wants to talk about Hominick’s striking and how good it is, but Aldo should dispatch him with ease. Aldo’s biggest fight this year could come in the form of Kenny Florian, who dropped to featherweight and hopes to win one big fight and then get his title shot.
2. Hatsu Hioki
Hioki beat Marlon Sandro in December, but doesn’t have a fight scheduled. Sengoku is in financial trouble and is losing fighters left and right. Could Hioki follow Kid Yamamoto and Michihiro Omigawa to the UFC?
3. Chad Mendes
Mendes won his fight against Omigawa, but he hardly looked impressive. A great performance likely would have earned him a title shot at the winner of Aldo/Hominick; instead, he’ll probably have to win one more fight before getting the shot.
4. Manny Gamburyan
Gamburyan makes his UFC debut against the tough Raphael Assuncao at UFC 128 in March.
5. Marlon Sandro
Sandro’s loss to Hioki knocked him down a few rungs, but the Jose Aldo teammate is still one of the very best featherweights in the world.
6. Michihiro Omigawa
Omigawa presented a stern challenge for Mendes at UFC 126 but ultimately fell short. He’s one tough bastard, though, and will get another shot in the UFC.
7. Diego Nunes
Nunes has three wins in a row over tough competition. He doesn’t have a fight booked, but we’d like to see him face Chad Mendes. It would be a litmus test for both fighters.
8. Dustin Poirier
Poirier came out of nowhere in late 2010, and really made his mark by battering Josh Grispi around the cage at UFC 125. He’s an entertaining fighter in the Chuck Liddell mode and is someone to watch out for in 2011.
9. Joe Warren
The Bellator featherweight champion doesn’t have a fight booked, but that should change soon.
10. Mark Hominick
Hominick has the chance of a lifetime when he faces Jose Aldo in front of his hometown crowd at UFC 129. Pressure? Just think about 55,000 people cheering for you and tell us how you’d feel. Nobody expects Hominick to win the fight, but that means he has a chance to shock the world.